Tools and machinery to clear vegetation

You can clear your land manually with hand tools or by using heavy machinery. What you use will depend on many things, including your land and vegetation cover.

Vegetation treatment

There are several methods to prepare your land for planting by flattening or chopping down standing vegetation.

Manual clearing

Manual clearing is best suited to smaller blocks of land. It is labour intensive and uses hand tools to clear your land. It can include scrub cutting or line cutting to create rows to plant your seedlings into. It's usually done by groups of workers using slashers or other hand tools.

Motor manual land clearing 

The most common motorised manual land clearing involves using tools like brush cutters or chainsaws.

Brush cutters

Brush cutters are best suited for use on light and medium density vegetation cover.


Chainsaws are best suited for use on larger and woody vegetation cover.

Tractor crushing

Vegetation can be flattened by crushing it with the blade of a tractor or log skidder. The machine moves across the site with the blade above the ground.

Roller crushing (gravity or towed)

Roller crushing can be used on both standing vegetation or on cutover sites (land that has already been cleared of trees). It's sometimes used as preparation for burning. Roller crushers are either towed or connected by winch to a bulldozer. They can be used on flat to rolling terrain (towed) or by using gravity on steeper hill slopes.

Slash treatment before replanting

Slash is logging debris left in the forest after harvesting trees. Slash management to remove or redistribute slash can be done by bulldozer or excavator. It involves wind rowing, mulching, or line blading and raking.


Windrowing clears most of the heavy slash from the planting area and leaves it in piled rows using bulldozers and excavators. This makes it easier to access the land for planting new seedlings and ensures they are planted into soil.


Controlled burning may be used on land that has excessive slash or dead, standing vegetation. This method is less favoured as it causes the loss of organic matter from the soil surface and has the potential to accidently burn surrounding areas. Our page on burning has more information.


On some sites, removing slash by windrowing or burning is unsuitable. Mulches attached to excavators or tractors break the slash into a coarse chip like mulch and is an alternative to chemical spraying. 

Line blading and line raking

Line blading and raking are very similar to one another. They clear lines through sites covered in heavy slash or scrub. Bulldozers and excavators are used for line raking, while only bulldozers are used for line blading.

Soil cultivation and mounding

Soil cultivation may be required to loosen compacted soils, improve tree stability, reduce frost risk and improve drainage. It can be done by bulldozer, excavator or tractor. It involves continuous ripping mounding, spot ripping mounding (or spot mounding) or v-blading. 

Continuous ripping and mounding

Ripping and mounding is used to improve soils where soil density or drainage may limit early tree growth. Bulldozers are used for ripping and mounding operations and work best on clear sites. 

Spot ripping-mounding and mounding

Spot mounding and spot ripping-mounding are very similar operations and use cultivation tools mounted on an excavator. They cultivate the immediate area around the tree and raise it off the ground to protect it from frost. 


V-blading uses bulldozers to create high continuous mounds of cultivated soil. It's used to improve drainage on swampy sites or those prone to severe frost.

Get advice

If your project is large scale, or you're new to forestry, you should get advice from a registered forestry professional.