How Much Does Land Clearing Cost?

Typical Price Range:

$1.50 - $2.00/sq.ft.

Find out how much your land clearing project costs today.

You may have just found the perfect plot of land on which you plan to build your dream house. Or a severe storm just ripped through your area and left trees downed and bushes upturned. You know that you have to clean up somehow, but like most people, you probably find the idea of land clearing to be a daunting, if not an impossible, task. There is a reason why land clearing is usually not a DIY project. Why do it alone when you can have experts cut out the guesswork, hassle, and worry and get the job done right the first time, every time?

Who Needs Land Clearing Services?

Most people in need of land clearing services hire professionals unless they have a very simple project on a small land plot. Whether you are a home or business owner, some reasons why you will need to clear land include:

  • Constructing a house or another type of building or structure
  • Making your property more visually appealing
  • Clearing dead or decaying trees and other plant life
  • Getting rid of animals and pests living in wooded areas
  • Cleaning up after a storm

While you should be aware of the factors that contribute to land clearing costs, once hired, the professional will usually take care of the details, like acquiring the necessary equipment, obtaining the right permits, and determining how to correctly dispose of various debris.

Skid steer land clearing
Photo Credit: Puppy Paws Skid Steer - Flickr - CC BY 2.0

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Key Factors in Land Clearing Costs

Land clearing costs fluctuate significantly and depend on a variety of factors. At a minimum, you should expect to pay around $500 for a basic clearing job, like removing brush to build a home patio. A very large piece of land with varied terrain and debris may cost tens of thousands of dollars to clear. The national average to clear a plot of land for a private home is currently approximately $3,000. There are several key factors to consider when estimating your land clearing cost.

Size of Land

It is a no-brainer that the larger your plot of land, the more it will cost to clear. The national average cost for a basic clearing job is around:

  • $1.50-$2.00 per square foot
  • $1,700 per quarter of an acre (~11,000 feet)

The number of personnel needed to clear your land will be a determining factor in the project’s final cost. A larger plot will either take longer or will require more personnel to clear. Certain equipment may also require specialized personnel. To hire one extra worker may add at least an additional several hundred dollars to your project’s overall cost.

Type of Land

The type of terrain being cleared will contribute to the cost. A flat piece of land will be less expensive to clear than an uneven or hilly piece of land. If your land is hilly and you plan to construct a building, you will probably have to pay extra for “grading” or flattening the land for construction. The national average grading cost is as high as $10,000 per acre, and the type of land being graded can increase the cost even further.


The kind of debris, which can include trees, brush, rocks, and manmade material, and how much of it there is on your property can significantly impact the cost of land clearing services. For example, the average cost of removing one tree can be as high as $750. The difficulty of cutting or breaking down the debris and removing it has a direct bearing on the cost:

  • Brush – up to $1,200 per acre
  • Few trees – up to $3,000 per acre
  • Wooded areas – more than $6,000 per acre
  • Rocks – starting around $5.50 per foot

Debris type will also determine the kind of equipment the workers will use for removal and disposal. Equipment rental costs can vary widely:

  • Rock drills – upwards of $2,500, depending on the drill
  • Bulldozer – $400-$800 per day
  • Dump Truck – $300-$1,800 per day
Debris removal from residential lot
Photo Credit: Bart Everson - Flickr - CC BY 2.0

Debris Disposal

Debris disposal can add at least several hundred dollars to the total cost of your clearing services. Some debris may be buried or burned on the property, but other waste may have to be transported to a landfill, which may incur added costs. One of the cheaper ways to dispose of trees and brush is to pulverize them using a mulcher. Mulching can cost up to $400 per acre. It may also be possible to sell trees, but that will depend on the availability of companies looking to buy lumber in your area. It is important to note disposal regulations in your area, including for any man-made debris, which may have to be disposed of at a specialized facility.

Local Laws and Regulations

There might be laws and regulations in place for safety and environmental reasons that guide or restrict land clearing services in your area. Permits may be required and can vary in price, adding $50 – $200 or more to your project’s total. You can be fined even if you unknowingly break the law. However, one benefit of hiring a clearing service is that the professionals typically know the local laws and will obtain any necessary permits.

Time of Year

While the timing of your land clearing project may not dramatically change the overall cost, weather conditions can have some impact on the cost of clearing services in general. For instance, if you are looking to clear a piece of land in southern Florida in the middle of the hurricane season, your costs are likely to be higher compared to the same service during the offseason. If your project is not time-sensitive, it is worth considering whether the time of year you choose to start your project will impact the cost.

Wrapping Up: Land Clearing Costs

Since there are so many different factors and variables that will determine your land clearing project’s total cost, the easiest way to get the most accurate estimate is to request a bid from a professional clearing company or two to make sure you are getting a competitive rate. Ultimately, more complicated land clearing jobs, especially for construction purposes, will require professionals. Though not always cheap, their knowledge and expertise will usually be worth the cost, at least for the average person.

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