Forestry Mulching: 9 Things (2024) You Need To Know

If you’ve been contemplating ways to make your recently purchased land more usable, you should consider forestry mulching.

Clearing land can be expensive and time-consuming, but there is a way to cut both costs and time.

Forestry mulching is an efficient method of clearing and managing the vegetation in a wooded area.

It also helps to control the spread of invasive species and restore the health of the ecosystem.

For more information about forest mulching, keep reading!

1. What is forestry mulching?

Forest mulching is a land clearing method that uses machinery to cut, grind, and clear vegetation.

You may hear this machinery referred to as a “forestry mulcher,” “forest masticator,” “brush cutter,” etc.

Heavy-duty forestry mulchers can clear up to 15 acres of vegetation a day depending on the terrain, density, and type of material.

2. What are the applications of forestry mulching?

There are numerous applications of forestry mulching. These include:

bulletRight-of-way clearing and maintenance

In most cases, forestry mulching is used for right-of-way clearing and maintaining roads, highways, pipelines, and other utility lines.

This process will require the complete removal of standing trees, stumps, vegetation, etc.

bulletLand clearing

If you need to clear land for commercial or residential projects, then forestry mulching is the way to go.

You’ll be able to prepare your site for development by cutting and clearing brush, creating nature and recreational trails, etc.

bulletWetlands and riparian habitat conservation

Forestry mulching is a popular method among nonprofit riparian conservation organizations, government agencies, hunt clubs, and private landowners in attempts to maintain habitats for various animals (ex: pheasants, doves, elk, deer, etc.).

Forestry mulchers can be used to rejuvenate resources like food, water, and shelter spaces for these animals.

bulletInvasive species control

Proactive forestry mulching can reduce stress on trees that are caused by crowding and make them less susceptible to attack from invasive species.

Additionally, mulching invasive species can help to control the spread of invasive plants, insects, and fungus.

bulletWildlife prevention and management

Forestry mulching can be used both proactively and reactively when it comes to mitigating fires, cleaning up soil erosion, and minimizing water pollution. 

3. What type of machinery is required for forestry mulching?

Mulchers are the machines that are used by forestry mulching companies to clear a piece of land.

There are small mulchers (like common lawn mulchers) that are defined as pieces of garden and yard clearing equipment.

There are also larger, high-performance machines that are used to clear expansive plots of land, construction sites, and areas with thick brush and heavy foliage.

Here are some common types of mulchers that are used in forestry mulching.

You may come across these if you are looking to clear land for a project.

bulletFreestanding mulchers: Portable mulching units made of plastic with a funnel-shaped opening through which the mulcher is fed leaves and debris.

This mulcher will shred them into small particles, which will then be turned into natural, nutritious mulch for the remaining plants.

bulletLawn tractor mulchers: These are small mulcher attachments that are pulled behind tractors.

They’re often used for lawn mowing due to their efficiency and are useful when you’re working on a large area of land for a short period of time.

bulletCommercial mulchers: This is the most common type of mulcher when working on a construction site as they clear land well.

Due to the tasks they tackle, they’re often very large and built of durable, heavy-duty steel mulching heads with lots of horsepower.

bulletDual-purpose mulchers: With a built-in shredder or chipper feature, these mulchers are popular because they can achieve multiple tasks at once.

A dual-purpose mulcher will cut the vegetation which is fed inside the shredder.

Once inside, it will be reduced to smaller pieces that will become nutritious mulch for the soil.

bulletElectric powered mulchers: Made for simple land clearing jobs, electric mulchers are ideal for residential neighborhoods because they’re quiet and eco-friendly.

However, due to their power cable, they can only reach so far.

bulletGas-powered mulchers: This type of mulcher is extremely powerful and used to clear dense foliage, tree limbs, and brush.

This variety comes in several sizes and can be used in different site conditions.

4. What are the advantages of forestry mulching?

If you’re wondering why forestry mulching is used, it’s because of the numerous benefits it holds over traditional methods.

Here are seven of its advantages.

bulletIt’s quick and affordable

Forest mulching, particularly for smaller areas, is a straightforward process that includes only one step.

You don’t need multiple machines for site prep, cutting, felling, hauling, and site cleanup.

Instead, there’s just one machine that can do it all, and all the leftover vegetation is converted into a nourishing ground layer that can stay right where it is.

Nothing needs to be hauled away.

With fewer machines and less manual labor, you’ll save lots of time and money!

bulletIt can be performed on any terrain and in any weather

Whether it’s hot, cold, wet, or dry, forest mulching can be performed in even the most challenging terrains and conditions.

You’ll see companies mulching on steep slopes, in poor soil, and even in wet/snowy weather.

bulletIt produces zero waste and is eco-friendly

With traditional land clearing, you’ll often see a risk of erosion because the soil is disrupted.

When a mulching method is used, it leaves the soil structure intact and the mulched material acts as an erosion barrier.

bulletIt reduces the tick population

Ticks are an unwelcome problem in any natural setting.

You likely know that you’re supposed to check your clothes and skin for ticks whenever you’re leaving a heavily wooded area.

By clearing land through mulching, you reduce the population of ticks that are residing in that area.

bulletIt hinders the growth of weeds

Do struggle with weeds on your land?

If so, try forest mulching.

With this method, the top layer of the ground gets covered with shredded vegetation that blocks the sunlight from reaching any weeds left behind.

This not only causes them to die out, but the heat generated by the decomposing shreds helps to terminate any remaining weeds.

bulletIt nourishes the soil

Mulching doesn’t push over trees and cause disturbances to the soil structure, which increases soil erosion.

Instead, it covers the topsoil and protects it from the natural forces that cause soil erosion (i.e., high winds or rainstorms).

So, you’ll see water conservation due to a reduction in the soil’s moisture loss.

Additionally, because mulch is organic material that decomposes over time, landowners who utilize mulching often improve soil fertility by delivering essential nutrients that serve future vegetation well.

5. What are the disadvantages of forestry mulching?

Forest mulching is beneficial for several reasons.

It replenishes the soil while ridding it of unwanted vegetative overgrowth.

However, it’s not without its limitations.

Here are some of its disadvantages that you may want to consider.

bulletThe type of mulch must be carefully calculated

To allow new plants to grow in a healthy way and thrive without resistance, organic material that ultimately creates mulch must be carefully calculated.

Bear in mind that there are different types of organic material that go into making mulch.

This includes sawdust, leaves, twigs, straw, softwood, hardwood, grass, etc.

If you miscalculate these materials, then it can lead to undesirable results.

bulletMulching isn’t always the best decision for every property

Forestry mulching might not be the best call for your property.

If you have a larger-sized area that is heavily wooded, then mulching can be a tedious task.

It will require a lot of effort and material.

Using the largest possible forestry mulching machines, the process is effective only when land is home to less than 25 tons of vegetation or 100 trees per acre.

While mulching is a more effective way to clear the land than by hand, it still requires that the property have road access to fuel and maintain the mulchers.

If you’re located in a remote area, then this can be an obstacle for forestry mulching, and you should keep this in mind as you’re making decisions for your project.

bulletMulch is a conducive breeding environment for organisms

There are organisms like earthworms that are helpful to soil and crops.

However, there are also harmful pests and disease-causing organisms that live and proliferate.

Be sure you perform mulching in a way that doesn’t allow any harmful organisms to multiply and become a threat to the soil around your yard and home.

If needed, contact a company that can control pest breeding.

bulletWhen done improperly, forest mulching can threaten the soil

Organic mulches must be used in a loose or partially rotted state to prevent draining nitrogen from the soil.

If mulch decomposes via anaerobic decomposition, then it can turn “sour” and damage the plants that it is supposed to be protecting.

bulletA lot of organic matter is needed to effectively create a small amount of mulch

To create even a small amount of mulch, significant organic matter is required, and some properties do not have enough to provide mulch for the entire area.

The most common problem with mulching is the sheer quantity of organic matter required.

As organic matter decomposes, the quantity recedes and so does the mulch.

If your property doesn’t have sufficient vegetation, then you probably won’t be able to sufficiently mulch your land.

bulletMultiple pieces of equipment may be required for areas with varying levels of vegetation and terrain

Skid steer tractors equipped with mulching attachments, tracked mulching machines, and excavator mulchers are all pieces of equipment that may need to be used for forestry mulching.

The appropriate machinery will vary depending on the vegetation and terrain as forestry mulching machines are not intended to process rocks and stones.

In fact, grinding rocks against the mulcher’s teeth can damage them and create a fire hazard.

bulletWhile it’s generally a safe process, there can be risks associated with forest mulching

These risks include debris and small stones that are thrown into the air while the machine is running.

Although mulchers often have protective shrouds to protect their users from flying debris, they can still be dangerous for people or structures nearby.

6. Who benefits from forestry mulching?

Forest mulching is a way to clear out farmlands, backyards, gardens, and other private properties.

However, there are other land development and environmental goals that make forestry mulching beneficial for other projects.

Here are some of the projects and groups that benefit from forestry mulching.

bulletCommercial and public land clearing

Mulching is now a popular option for public, commercial, and residential land clearing projects in addition to construction site preparation and development.

You’ll see it used for right-of-way clearing, road and highway maintenance, pipelines, and utility lines.

bulletWetlands and riverbank ecology habitat conversation

Nonprofit riparian conservation organizations, private landowners, hunting clubs, and government agencies are adopting the process of forestry mulching because it is environmentally friendly.

Specifically, it maintains habitats for animals like pheasants, doves, elk, deer, etc.

bulletAnimal welfare

Forest mulching can help to control vegetation growth in the forest according to the needs of the other animal species in the area.

It provides for wildlife welfare through food, water, and shelter.

bulletInvasive species control

When managing land, you always want to keep an eye out for invasive plants and insects as they can create harsh conditions for the native ecosystems.

Forest mulching can help to remove these pests from groundwater, trees, etc. and ultimately helps control the spread.

bulletWildfire prevention and management

When you proactively mulch land, it helps to reduce the potential for wildfires by eliminating small leafy plants, fallen or rotten trees, and other vegetation that might act as tinder.

Thus, you can use forest mulching as a means of wildfire control as well.

7. How much does forestry mulching cost?

Forest mulching prices are affordable compared to other methods of land clearing.

Per acre, you can expect to pay roughly between $125-$300 per hour.

Factors that can influence the cost include the terrain, the complexity of the project, and the thickness of the material.

Keep in mind that the average forestry mulching equipment can clear 1-4 acres per day.

Contact a local forest mulching company to get a better estimate of what your land will cost.

8. Which is the best mulcher for your home project?

If you’re investigating mulching for your next project, then you may wonder how to select one given all the different types.

We recommend a mulching lawnmower for your lawn as it can help you to fertilize your grass while it is being cut.

Here are some criteria that can help with selection.

bulletCutting width: A lawnmower’s width tells you the amount of grass that it can cut at once.

The most common options include 14 or 18-inch blades.

The larger the blade, the better the cutting performance.

bulletMotor power: When a lawnmower has more power, it performs better.

Look for options like 11-amp or 13-amp motors and 40-volt and 56-volt batteries for your garden.

bulletPower type: Above, we discussed different types of power like gas and electric.

Look for the best option for your yard — keeping in mind whether you’d want to use something that plugs in, operates with a battery, or utilizes gas.

9. What other services do mulching companies typically provide?

Forestry mulching companies often provide other services as well.

Here are some of the other services that you may need:

bulletPasture reclamation

bulletLot clearing and beautification

bulletTree thinning

bulletClearing overgrowth

bulletUnderbrush removal

bulletRight-of-way clearing

bulletFence line clearing

bulletHome site clearing

bulletHunting access lanes

bulletDitch clearing

bulletTree removal

bulletTrails and road clearing

bulletBrush mowing

bulletFire breaks

bulletUtility easements clearing

bulletReal estate thinning

bulletStump removal

bulletElimination of invasive plant species

Final thoughts

Take your wooded area and make room for something new with forestry mulching.

This can be a way to protect your soil and support existing habitats.

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Erika Gokce Capital

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.


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