Bush hogging, also known as brush hogging, is brush cutting or rough cutting mowing.
It’s a form of landscaping that eliminates heavy brush to prepare land for farming, hunting, development, and a variety of other uses.
Bush hogging is a preferred method to other types of tree removal (i.e., bulldozing) as it avoids agitating the ground through invasive root extraction and environmental disruption.
If you’re interested in learning more about bush hogging, keep reading!
We have the top things you should know before getting started.
1. What is a bush hog?
A bush hog is a type of rotary mower.
These mowers attach to the back of a farm tractor using the three-point hitch and are driven via the power take-off (PTO).
A bush hog has blades that are not rigidly attached to the drive like a lawnmower blade but are on hinges.
This way, if the blade hits a rock or a stump, then it can bounce backward or inward.
The centrifugal force will then make it go outwards again.
2. What is bush hogging?
Bush hogging means clearing lands of small trees and brush.
You use a bush hog to brush cut or rough-cut mow as a form of landscaping.
3. How do you bush hog?
Here are the steps for bush hogging:
Choose a rotary cutter for your tractor (or another vehicle)
Select the right bush hog for your vehicle.
There are a few criteria you should be basing your decision on: horsepower, cutting deck width, and connector.
Horsepower: There should be a maximum 10 percent difference in horsepower ratings between the tractor and the cutter.
If you have a 50 hp tractor, then you’ll need a 40-50 hp cutter.
Likewise, if you have a 30 hp tractor, then you should purchase a 20-30 hp cutter.
Cutting deck width: Often, if you have a 25 hp tractor, you should choose a mower no larger than 5 ft width.
A 40 hp tractor, on the other hand, can handle a 6 ft wide cutting deck.
Connector: If a tractor does not have a hydraulic system and a PTO shaft, then your options will be a bit limited.
You may want to consider a 3-point conversion kit or a new tractor.
Hook up your bush hog
Fortunately, modern tractor implements are fairly easy to connect.
Once you’ve got your cutter attached, make sure that the stabilizer chains don’t have too much slack.
You don’t want the cutter to swing too loosely on turns.
Raise the tractor deck before heading out
If you’re towing with a lawn tractor, you’ll need to raise the tractor deck before venturing out.
Lawn tractors are not well-equipped for heavy brush.
Do not engage the tractor cutting deck unless you’re going over a row you’ve already cleared.
Start your tractor
Start your tractor, depress the clutch, and engage the PTO.
Let the clutch out slowly, and you’ll begin to see the bush hog blades start to turn.
Adjust the hydraulics
Remember to adjust the hydraulics to raise the cutting deck to the right height.
You should also choose the gear most appropriate for the job.
If you’re cutting heavier brush, you’ll need to move more slowly.
The amount of power that you divert to your PTO will change as your gear changes.
From here, you should be good to go.
You should drive carefully but as you normally would.
You can drive in a circular cutting pattern or strips.
Be sure to watch for hazards like large holes, rocks, or stumps that will damage your bush hog.
If you do hit something, stop immediately and inspect your bush hog for damage.
Safety should always come first when you’re bush hogging.
Remember that bush hogs are made for mowing tall, thick grasses and weeds, which means you won’t always be able to see what you’re running over.
Stay clear of the cutter if the blades are still spinning for your own safety!
4. Do you need a big tractor?
There are attachments that exist for ATVs, UTVs, and riding mowers.
Some can even be towed to the side of a lawn tractor.
This allows you to bush hog the first swath while you finish mowing at the same time that you bush hog the next row.
When you do this, you cut your mowing time in half while you finish the lawn.
That said, if you already have a big tractor, then you can purchase a bigger attachment to pair with it.
5. Why do you need bush hogging services?
If you have a piece of land that hasn’t been maintained for a period of time, then bush hogging is likely needed.
When land is dead or overgrown, you’ll need to cut back the weeds and grasses before you can utilize the land for another purpose.
Here are some scenarios in which you should consider bush hogging.
You’ve inherited unkept property
You desire to use the land for a new or different purpose (i.e., hunting or beekeeping)
You need to perform a routine grounds upkeep at the start of a new season
When you cut back the weeds and grasses, you’ll be left with nutrient-rich soil that can be used to nourish other valuable plant life.
This will allow insects and animals to return to the land and interact with it in a favorable way.
6. What are some tips to keep in mind?
If you’re new to bush hogging, here are some top tips that we’d recommend when getting started.
Mow slowly so you can avoid doubling back on your work
Inspect the property you are about to mow and decide how low to drop the blades based on the vegetation that is present
Evaluate what you see and hear while mowing — Is your mower being overtaxed? Are there large, fixed objects that could damage your mower?
Perform basic maintenance on your machinery after every job to ensure problems don’t go unchecked for long periods
7. How long does bush hogging take?
How long bush hogging will take ultimately depends on numerous factors.
Density: The density of the surrounding brush can impact the speed at which you’re able to drive the bush hog.
If there’s bumpy or uneven terrain, then that will slow you down to 2 MPH.
Drier and clearer growth can help you increase your speed up to 6 MPH.
Width of the blade cutter: The width of the blade cutter can make a big difference in how long bush hogging takes.
If you’re driving a tractor with an attachment bush hog, then you may be able to cover an acre in an hour.
However, if you’re using a hand-pushed device like a bush hog that’s rented out of a home improvement store, then it could take up to three times as long.
Conditions: If the conditions are optimal, then drivers can expect to cover 1.5 to 3 acres in an hour.
Optimal conditions consist of little to no saplings, dry vegetation, and mostly even ground.
If you do not have these conditions, expect your bush hogging to take a little longer.
8. When should you DIY bush hogging and when should you hire a service?
If you know you need to bush hog your land, you have two choices of how to do it.
First, you can do it yourself by either renting equipment or buying equipment.
Second, you can hire a bush hogging service to do it on your behalf.
Below, we’ll walk through what each of these processes looks like.
I’d like to DIY
If you want to go the DIY approach, then it’s entirely possible to do.
However, we don’t necessarily recommend it for you if you’re unfamiliar with all aspects of land clearing.
The more economical route is likely to be renting a bush hog for a few hours or days at a time for a flat rate.
The price for this is likely no more than you would pay to have it done professionally, and you’ll be in control of the process from start to finish.
The tradeoff of this is that there can be higher rates of both injury and error.
As a result, many stores (like Home Depot or Lowes) have stopped renting out tractors with bush hogs.
Thus, you may have to search around for somewhere that will rent you what you need.
You could also consider purchasing your own equipment and adding it to your collection of property maintenance tools.
This may be a good investment if you anticipate the need to frequently bush hog, or if you know that renting will be a hassle.
Just make sure you factor in maintenance and repairs because this can make purchasing more expensive than renting!
I’d like to hire a company
If you choose to hire a company or contractor, then this is a fairly straightforward and simplistic route.
You’ll just need to look up companies in your area.
Keep in mind that prices for bush hogging services will vary widely depending on where you live, so you’ll want to shop around before settling on one company or contractor.
Additionally, if you know anyone who has bush hogged their land, it may be a good idea to ask them for a recommendation.
9. How do you know what is a good company rate?
As noted above, bush hogging rates change based on location.
Here’s how you can tell if you’re getting a good deal.
Ask about the price structure when inquiring about what you’ll be charged
Some companies charge hourly, by the day, or by acreage.
Be prepared to provide a clear answer about the area you’d like prepared.
Additionally, you’ll need to know the type of brush that’s growing there.
Consider the time of year when requesting a quote
Land clearing is more difficult in the summertime because vegetation has had time to grow and root itself into the Earth.
If it’s possible, bush hog in the spring, fall, or winter.
This is when saplings and other growths are at their minimum and weed and grasses aren’t tall either.
Factor in prices for labor, transportation, maintenance of equipment, the amount/condition of the land being serviced, and the amount of fuel burned per hour
All of this impacts the price you’ll be quoted.
If you’re working with a company/contractor, work to find someone you trust because it’s likely you’ll work with them repeatedly to maintain your land.
Remember, while you want to find a good price for bush hogging, you also get what you pay for.
Don’t go too cheap!
Always go with a reputable company whether you’re renting/buying equipment or hiring them to do the job.
10. How often should you bush hog?
When you bush hog depends on the area you’re maintaining and what you intend to use it for.
Pastures and hunting grounds: Every 6-12 months
Saplings that grow quickly: Every 3-6 months
Land that needs to be cleared: Clear initially and then go back over it
That said, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for all land.
You know what you want the property to look like, and thus you’ll need to adjust your bush hogging accordingly.
11. What are the benefits of bush hogging?
Are you wondering how bush hogging can benefit you and your land?
Regardless of how you intend to use your land — agricultural use, personal enjoyment, or aesthetic pleasure — maintaining your grounds properly comes with numerous environmental benefits.
Here’s just a short list.
Clearing tall grass
Cutting saplings 1 inch or less in diameter
Maintaining overgrown on pasture areas
Preparing land for property development
Removing vines, weeds, brush, and other excessive plant growth
Promoting biodiversity on the property and surrounding areas
Encouraging interaction between bees and flora (if you have an interest in beekeeping)
Attracting wildlife by opening clearings and level pastures
12. What should you do after bush hogging is completed?
Once you’ve completed bush hogging, you’ll have between two months to a year before you need to go again to keep the land clear.
Here are some ways that you can help to maintain the land.
Regularly cut vegetation to promote steady regrowth of wildlife
Clear tree stumps if necessary
Do not bulldoze excess materials as this will disturb the soil (you may want to consider mulching to prevent soil erosion)
Set a time estimate for when you’ll want to bush hog again (this will depend on what your intended purpose for the land is)
Bush hogging is an ideal way to make sure your land is well-maintained and well-managed for the benefit of both you and the surrounding landowners.
You can either bush hog yourself or hire a professional landscape service to help simplify the process.
If you’re up for the task and have some skills in this area, feel free to go for it yourself!
However, if you’re inexperienced with land clearing, don’t hesitate to hire a company with the expertise you lack.
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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.