Stumpin’ by Mike, a tree care company based in Herkimer, New York, specializes in tree removals and land-clearing jobs, including yard expansions. Owner Matt Macrina says that while lifts are an important tool when it comes to removing individual trees, “On land-clearing jobs, we don’t usually use too much aerial equipment. It’s mostly ground equipment, like skid steers.”

He’s found that using different types of grapples on the skid unit is the most effective way to make various parts of the job go as quickly as possible. “For example, I’ve got a rotating grapple, which is nice for carrying small trees or logs out; it’ll pull from the front of the machine rather than horizontally, like with a root grapple. That’s real nice for narrow-access jobs to help get the wood out, but then we also have the root grapple, which is nice for getting brush out,” Macrina explains.

Macrina cuts trees by hand rather than using a large feller-buncher and skidder, the way most larger land-clearing companies do. “That’s really a different animal, and that equipment wouldn’t work on some of the sites we work on,” he explains.

While stump grinding is a big part of his general tree care business, he says, “You’re never going to go in and grind hundreds of stumps on a land-clearing job.” Even if the stumps are ground down, the root mass is still underground and would make it difficult to work with the land if a house is being built or yard constructed. Instead, Macrina typically digs up the stumps with a dozer equipped with a root blade or an excavator, depending on how much land is being cleared and the size of the stumps. In some cases, Stumpin’ by Mike is brought in by construction companies that aren’t geared up for land clearing. In those cases, they may leave the stumps a few feet high so it’s easier for the construction company to grab hold and remove them later.

Bidding clearing jobs can be tricky. “You always want to make sure you’re covered in case you run into something unknown,” advises Macrina. It’s important to take stock of what’s out on the site, he says. “Sometimes it’s smaller, new growth trees; sometimes those trees are mixed in with larger trees; sometimes it’s like a forest. There’s no set price for land clearing; the cost range per acre is going to depend on what’s on it.”

Note: this was originally published in Sept. 2014.

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