We have one of the smallest lots in our neighborhood, only 1.36 acres. Years ago, before we lived here, most of it was cleared of trees and usable, but over the years, the alder, cottonwood, and willow have crept in closer and closer to the house. Not gonna work for our plans here on the homestead. So we decided it was time to start clearing land, and what better way then to rent a bulldozer?
Our completely overgrown backyard is now completely clear, minus “privacy screen” trees lining the property on the sides. The bulldozer worked great for pushing down the small trees and creating a berm at the bottom of the property, the kind of berm that current berry bushes and raspberries love!
There is still a lot of rocks and roots to clear away, but before too long, this big brown square will be a lovely garden with a greenhouse and chicken coop. We’re hoping to eventually house goats in the back yard too (but that’s a ways off.)
I’ll be tilling a lot of the area with a walk-behind tiller to get most of the roots and rocks out and loose, and then raking over one last time. After that, grass seed in the “someday goat” area. We contracted a fencing company in Ottawa to take care of the fence. The six foot moose fence will go up around the raised beds in the garden. The greenhouse plans have been planned and replanned, drawn and redrawn, and construction is underway. (Pics coming soon!) The chicken coop will probably be the last project, and chickens will be brought home. We’ve got a long ways to go, but seeing change is such a wonderful feeling!
Tips for Renting a Bulldozer and Clearing Land
1. Shop around and check your prices and availability. Don’t forget to ask about any potential extra fees; if you go over your allotted hours, fuel, cleaning, etc. Surprises on your bill are never fun. Find out if you can purchase your own diesel to replace what you use.
2. Before you dig, don’t forget to call several days before and get a “locate” on all underground utilities. This is usually a free service. They’ll come out and spray paint where your electric, phone, gas, water, etc. are all buried.
3. Watch a YouTube video on how to drive a ‘dozer if it’s your first time. Knowing what you’re doing, or at least having a good idea of how to run the machine will save a lot of time. Here’s a great one by Cat. Having a buddy who’s run them before it always good too.
4. Don’t expect a bulldozer to be able to plow over everything. Trees large than 4 inches in diameter need to be cut down by hand. When removing small trees, to remove the roots, work the blade from the bottom up, starting on the ground. If you’re just pushing trees over, keep the blade roughly three feet off the ground.
5. Give yourself plenty of time to get your project done. Something always manages to come up.
6. Know your property boundary and be sure its marked. If your neighbors are close, it’s not a bad idea to give them a heads up about your plans.
7. Clean off the tracks when you’re done. If you have to, get in there and pull out any mud and sticks. Hose it off as well. Most companies will charge a cleaning fee otherwise.
This is the first of my “Building a Brand New Garden” series. We’ve got SO many more changes coming! Don’t forget to subscribe below to see all the upcoming additions!
See the full before and after pics of our busy 2014 summer HERE.