How Much Does It Cost To Clear Land?
Land Clearing Cost
The average cost to clear land to build a house is between $1,150 and $3,680. Land clearing cost per acre ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 on lightly wooded lots and between $3,790 to $6,710 for a heavily wooded area. Depending on why you need the land cleared, what needs to be removed, and the acreage of the land, you could see prices as low as $500 for a quarter-acre and as high as $7,000 for a full acre lot.
The price to clear land will vary depending on the size of the lot, the purpose of the land preparation, and the density of trees, brush, rocks, and stumps that need to cleared. While you could do the work yourself, this price guide looks at getting the land clearing done professionally.
|National Average Cost||$2,680|
|Average Range||$1,150 to $3,790|
Table Of Contents
Land Clearing Cost Per Acre
The costs to clear land will vary based on how heavily the acreage is wooded with brush, trees, stumps, and rocks. Lot clearing costs around $950 on a quarter-acre for light clearing on flat ground without rocks. To clear a full acre of flat, light brush, without grading or rock removal costs about $3,790. For a heavily forested lot the prices to clear the trees can be $7,000 or more.
Most companies will give you a quote on the final cost to clear your land based on a quarter acre- or full acre price.
- Quarter-acre: $950 – Light clearing of small young trees no taller than 9’ on a quarter acre—where the ground is flat and doesn't need to be graded or have any rocks removed.
- Full acre light underbrush: $3,790 – To clear a full acre of the same level of light brush, also without grading or rock removal.
- Full acre heavily forested: $7,000+ – For a heavily forested area with tall trees, lots of brush, and grading.
Cost to Clear Wooded Lot Per Quarter Acre
The average cost to prepare land for building or house on a quarter-acre lot is between $950 and $1,680 depending on the level of brush, trees, and how much grading will be required. Here are average lot clearing prices:
|Brush Level||Cubic Yards of Debris||Average Cost|
|Clear light brush and grub roots||87.5||$950|
|Clear medium brush and small trees, grub roots||105||$1,090|
|Clear brush and trees to 6" trunk diameter||455||$1,200|
|Clear wooded area, pull stumps||490||$1,680|
Cost to Clear Underbrush Per Acre
The price to clear light to medium underbrush is between $3,790 and $4,360 per acre, which is around 350 to 420 cubic yards of debris to be removed. For a heavily forested area with lots of trees and stumps, expect to pay between $4,820 and $6,710.
|Brush Level||Cubic Yards of Debris||Average Cost|
|Clear light underbrush & grub roots||350||$3,790|
|Clear medium underbrush & small trees, grub roots||420||$4,360|
|Clear underbrush and trees to 6" trunk diameter||455||$4,820|
|Clear wooded area, pull stumps||490||$6,710|
Additional Land Clearing Prices
Typically, land clearing is charged by the acre or quarter-acre, but in some cases, the average price ranges between $1 to $2 per square foot for complete land clearing and site preparation.
How Much Does it Cost to Clear Land to Build a House?
Clearing land to build a house costs between $1,150 and $3,680 on average. A smaller lot that only needs one contractor and a bobcat with a shredder attached, you can expect to pay between $1,200 and $1,500, depending on the density of the brush, grass, and rock.
Brush Removal Costs
Clearing brush is less expensive than trees and costs between $1,254 and $1,755 per acre on average. In some cases where the brush is very light and thin, clearing the overgrowth could cost as little as $200 per acre.
|Brush Level||Average Cost|
|Light Brush||$1,254 per acre|
|Heavy Brush||$1,629 per acre|
|Wooded||$1,755 per acre|
Tree Clearing Cost
Clearing a single tree will cost between $200 and $400 on average. Tree removal costs around $70 to $200 if the tree has fallen down already. Tree clearing per acre ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 on lightly wooded lots and between $3,790 to $6,710 for a heavily forested acreage.
|Tree Height||Average Cost|
|8′ to 12′||$150 each|
|13′ to 18′||$210 each|
|19′ to 24′||$330 each|
|25′ to 36′||$419 each|
Land Clearing Stump Removal
The total cost of tree stump grinding will depend on the number of stumps, the tree stumps’ diameters, access to the stump(s), the depth of the grinding, the root system, and mulch removal. On average, you can expect to spend $160 for first stump and $40 per additional stump to be removed.
|Stump Width||Average Cost|
|6″ to 10″||$67 each|
|11″ to 14″||$88 each|
|15″ to 18″||$110 each|
|19″ to 24″||$131 each|
|25″ to 30″||$139 each|
Clearing Rocks From Land
Clearing rocks from land typically costs $5.53–$9.15 per linear foot depending on the hardness of the soil and rock. Rock drilling requires the use of a pneumatic truck-mounted wagon drill which requires a $2,500 minimum job charge.
Excavation Cost Per Acre
Land excavation is essential when building a structure that requires a foundation, such as a garage or home. Also, it is used to turn a wooded plot into farmland or a garden. The average price of excavation is between $1,600 and $4,400.
Land Grading Cost
Typically land grading costs $100 per cubic yard, that can go up to $200 or more depending on the terrain and level of erosion control. When you are working with land that is not entirely flat, and it needs to be leveled for use or for construction, it will need to be graded. In this phase of preparing the land, it will either be scraped and removed from the location or scraped from a higher elevation on the land, and the dirt then used to fill a lower elevation to level it out.
Land Grading Cost Per Acre
Nationally, land grading costs between $6,000 to $10,000 per acre. Work done in clay, shale, or soft rock will cost 10% to 25% more. To strip, stockpile on site, and then replace topsoil is an additional $9.48 per cubic yard.
Forestry Mulching Cost Per Acre
This is a much cheaper option for removing individual trees and bits of brush. When clearing land that isn’t going to be built on immediately, and assuming the land is as flat as you want it and doesn’t need to be graded, you could have contractors come to mulch everything.
In this scenario, equipment called a forestry mulcher, masticator, or brush cutter would be brought in to shred everything and leave a carpet of mulch spread out across the ground. There are different tools required for the job which can be attached to tractors, excavators, or even bobcats, and the most common is a rotary drum with steel teeth which shreds the vegetation.
Depending on how your contractor prices the work, it can either be hourly for which you could be looking at $150 to $250 per hour, or they may charge a flat rate of $400 per acre.
The heaviest duty equipment available can take care of around 15 acres per day, but for smaller applications, it is not feasible to transport that size of equipment to a residential plot—the equipment will need to be smaller, and depending on how thick the brush is, it may take half to one day to clear an acre.
How Is Land Clearing & Site Preparation Done?
- Land Survey: If you haven’t already done so, in the case of clearing for construction and property lines, check your most recent land survey and make sure the proposed build site is within any setbacks from your property lines. It might be wise to get a new survey if your current survey is quite old. A land survey costs between $480 and $540 for a residential survey.
- Land Clearing Permit: Each state or county may view this differently, but more often than not, when there is a significant amount of grading to be done, you are nearly always likely to need a clearing permit. Also, specific sizes of trees are protected and cannot be removed, so those trees must be marked. $200+
- Utilities: Before work is done, you will need to check for any underground utilities, especially if grading is required. Call 811 to start the process for the relevant utility companies to come out to your property to identify and flag off the utility locations and directions. This service is free.
- Flood zone: Check the FEMA flood maps for your property to make sure the local zoning for your land hasn't changed. Zoning is more applicable when grading is being done, because of its ability to change the flow of water on your property.
- Clearing: You may need to demolish existing structures, then begin clearing the trees, brush, and rocks from the land.
- Stump Removal: Pros may grind or burn the tree stumps on site.
- Grading: Grading will make the surface of the land level and ready for construction.
Additional Cost Factors
- Distance to your property from the contractor’s location
- Distance from your property to the dump
- Removal of any additional nonorganic debris like demolished building materials
Land Clearing Equipment Rental Costs
Land clearing companies sometimes pay thousands to rent the right equipment for your job plus the delivery and pickup costs of between $150 to $250, insurance at 9% of the rental rate, fuel, and qualified operators. On average, it takes around 3 to 4 hours to clear an acre of land. If you were to hire professional labor, costs would be around $130 to $250 per hour per operator.
- 65 horsepower dozer - $312 for a half day, $445 for a day, or $1,330 per week
- 140 horsepower dozer - $568 for a half day, $811 for a day or $2,310 per week
- 25,000 to 29,000 lbs. excavator. $828 for a day, $2,211 for a week, or $5,920 per month
- 43,000 to 49,999 lbs. excavator. $1,121 for a day, $2,880 for a week or $6,659 per month
- 25 to 30-ton articulated truck - $1,800 for the day, or $3,950 for a week
- 12 to 14 cubic yard dump truck - $750 per day or $1,700 per week
- A truck which can hold between 5 and 6 cubic yards - $300 per day or $800 per week
Whether you need to clear land for farming or construction, there is a high likelihood that you will need to remove cactus plants from it, which is no easy job.
Low-Density Cactus Removal - Below 100 Plants Per Acre
- Fast and high cost – At $80 to $100 per hour for a contractor to arrive with the necessary equipment to dig out cactus. The total price can quickly get into many thousands if they have to use the skid loader on high-density infestation on multiple acres.
- Slow and cheap – A systemic herbicide containing picloram is used on the cacti. This treatment is slow since you not only have to wait until there are no drought conditions to apply the herbicide—because it is best absorbed through new growth—but it can also take up to two years for the cacti to die and wither. However, at the price of about $20 per acre, it is an inexpensive solution.
High-Density Cactus Removal - More Than 100 Plants per Acre
If the density of plants per acre makes the manual extraction or herbicide treatment cost prohibitive, you can go with either broadcast herbicide at $250+ per acre or prescribed burn at $1 to $10 per acre or a combination of both, as long as the size of your land and the location of the cacti will allow for it.
Cheapest Way to Clear Land
- Financial assistance – If controlling or removing cacti from your land is something you are facing, you can call the local US Department of Agriculture office to inquire about their National Resources Conservation Service, and you should also look into the availability of federal grants to help in the control and removal of brush.
- DIY Land Clearing – Clearing the land yourself is always an option when there isn’t a significant amount of work to be done, you are in no particular rush to get the work done, and you have the equipment and manpower you need for a few weekends. If you don’t have any of the right equipment, some of the necessary expenses you would be looking at are below, along with the rental prices of large pieces of equipment mentioned above.
- Sell The Trees – Lumber companies will sometimes be willing to remove them for free in exchange for being able to sell the wood. This usually only works if you have a lot of trees of a variety that makes for good firewood or furniture. While it’s tempting to find anyone you can to come and chop them up for firewood, you could end up paying thousands if they are injured on your property because they didn’t have liability insurance.
Hiring Your Land Clearing Services
To find the best professional team to clear your land, check out the experts listed here on HomeGuide to get the work done. Create a shortlist of 3–5 contractors and get bids to find the right provider to come and clear your land. Use the following as a checklist to create your shortlist:
- Are A/A+ rated with the Better Business Bureau
- Have equipment operators with the necessary certifications or licenses
- Are insured and bonded
- Have been in business for a decent number of years
- Have great reviews on HomeGuide and Google
What Should Be Included in a Bid?
Typically, unless you are providing a solution for one or more of the components of the work yourself, the proposals you get should cover the following:
- All labor
- All equipment needed
- All equipment-related expenses including transportation to and from the site, gas, insurance, etc.
- All debris removal and any dumping fees
- All grading service prices (if your contractor provides that service)
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