Q: How long does it take to clear an acre?
A: There are a lot of variations that must be considered when clearing a piece of property. To give you an exact time is nearly impossible sight unseen. Therefore, we typically like to set up a site visit with the land owner and one of our Cedar Eater representatives. Some of the questions we typically ask are:
• What’s the terrain like?
• How dense is the vegetation?
• Are there many oaks?
• What trees do you want to save and what do you want to take out?
• How finely do you want the material mulched?
These are just a few of the questions that we will ask and they all play a role in how long it takes to clear an acre.
Q: How much does it cost to clear an acre?
A: With the variations in density and terrain we can determine the type of equipment needed to best suit the clearing of your property. Based on the combinations of equipment and resources the cost per acre will vary from job to job.
Q: Do we clear other types of vegetation?
A: Yes, don’t let the Cedar Eater name fool you. We are not only concerned about cedar but also with mesquite, huisache, yaupon, and a variety of other vegetation that are viewed as water-wasting nuisances to Texans.
Q: Does the vegetation grow back after it has been mulched?
A: Blue berry cedar, which is typically found in the Texas Hill Country, will not grow back once the tree has been mulched down to ground level. However, mesquite, huisache, yaupon, and various other types of vegetation will grow back unless they are maintained by shredding or treated with herbicide. In parts of North Texas and on through the Panhandle there is a mixture of red berry and blue berry cedar before completely turning over into red berry cedar. The only difference between the two types of cedar is that red berry cedar will grow back from the roots. This is one of the primary reasons why we have the Grubber.
Q: Do we mulch piles?
A: Yes we mulch piles old and new. When dealing with piles it is important to call and set up a site visit with one of our representatives. Piles are difficult to gauge as there are many things that need to be taken into account:
• Was the pile sheared?
• Was the pile dozed?
• Does the pile have large root balls?
• Are there rocks in the pile?
• Is there wire or metal debris in the pile?
• How large are the piles?
• Do they need to be pulled apart?
These are all questions that need to be answered as they help us decide what kind of equipment we need to mulch the piles efficiently.
Q: What do you do with the mulch after the work has been completed?
A: We prefer to leave the mulch on the ground after an area has been cleared. The mulch provides a protective layer during heavy rains to minimize soil erosion and holds moisture in the ground during extensive droughts. The moisture held within the mulch keeps the ground temperature much cooler thereby increasing the amount of valuable minerals needed to promote the new growth of native grasses. Also, cedar mulch is acidic and has the ability to break down the alkaline characteristics of limestone creating topsoil.
Q: Will grass grow through the mulch? If so, how long does it take for the grass to re-grow?
A: Yes, grass will grow through the mulch as long as the density of the mulch is not over 2 to 3 inches thick. You will have areas of mulch that are thicker than 2 to 3 inches when we are clearing very dense and large stands of cedar. You may also have thick areas of mulch in areas where the cleared vegetation has been piled. We do our best to spread the material out but sometimes there is no way around it. If it is too thick for your needs, then you may choose to have us come back and re-mulch it. This will promote a quicker decay of the mulched material.
Typically the grass will start growing back immediately after we have completed the work. However, it all depends on how much rain you receive and if the dormant native grass seed that is naturally on your property is abundant enough to return. If not, it may be wise to pick up some native grass seed from your local feed store and broadcast it after we have completed the work. To see proof of the re-growth of native grasses over time please visit our mulch page.
Q: How long does it take for the mulch to decay?
A: For many of us living in the Texas Hill Country there is an extensive stump record of cedar that can be seen today that proves that cedar was cleared long before many of us were even here. The mulch we leave behind will take several years to decay but it won’t take as long as those stumps. By mulching the vegetation down you are essentially speeding up the process for Mother Nature to break it down. If you look at the bigger picture, the mulch left behind will break down creating an abundance of healthy top soil which is something many of us do not have anymore. This is due to the many years of erosion created by using invasive land clearing techniques like dozing and chaining.
Q: Does it help if you re-mulch an area after a couple of years?
A: Re-mulching is a great idea especially if you are a repeat customer. It takes very little time and can help speed up the natural breakdown of the mulch in the thicker areas. We do not recommend it in areas that have already been mulched where the grasses are recovering nicely. However, we do recommend it in areas that were once very thick with cedar and now have a very dense mulch layer that have not allowed the native grasses to regenerate. In some cases it may be wise to broadcast a mixture of native grass seed after an area has been re-mulched.
Q: Why is the re-growth of Cedar considerably less when using the mulching method instead of dozing?
A: Unlike other methods, our machines do not disturb the ground. When we mulch the trees where they stand the berries will fall to the ground but because there is minimal ground disturbance the berries are not allowed to germinate. Also, most of the berries that do fall will remain in the mulch and the humidity within the mulch as well as other elements will break down the berries before they even touch the soil. Dozers must push or pile their brush and in doing so they aerate the soil along the way allowing the berries to germinate when they fall to the ground.
Q: Does the mulching machine work well in rocky areas?
A: This is one of the main reasons why we request a site visit. While our Cedar Eaters are capable of working in moderately rocky areas it is difficult to mulch in areas with numerous large rock. However, please don’t count us out. Schedule a site visit with one of our representatives and we can determine if the vegetation is large enough to create a thick mulch bed that will allow us to work around the rocks. In areas where there is not enough vegetation or the vegetation is too small we can recommend several other options. First, we can cut the vegetation down with a hand crew and place the material in non rocky areas where the machine can mulch. Second, we have a skid steer with sheer and grapple that is capable of sheering the vegetation at the base and piling the material into burns piles or in win rows to be mulched at a later date. Third, we can use the grubber to pluck the cedars out of the ground and move them just as easily as the other two options.
Q: How do you work around dense oak motts?
A: When dealing with dense oaks motts we typically recommend our 200 HP Cedar Eater because of its unique range of motion. This machine is large enough to get the job done in a timely manner and small enough to move quickly around and under the oaks. However, there are many cases when the canopies of the oaks are too low and the mulching machine cannot operate without risking damage to the oaks. This is where we recommend the use of our hand crew and skid steer. Though they are not needed on all our jobs, the hand crew and skid steer play a vital role in achieving a park-like look and help to speed up the clearing process by moving the material into areas where the machine can mulch it.
Q: How does the clearing of vegetation affect wildlife? Is the clearing of cedar or any other vegetation good for wildlife?
A: Our methods of clearing vegetation are the most environmentally friendly in the business. We promote mulching because it returns the stolen nutrients back to the soil to help the local ecosystem recover from what was stolen. We DO NOT believe in clear cutting a property for two reasons – aesthetics and wildlife however in some cases it is necessary. The trick is to promote both what the client would like to see aesthetically out of their property while still allowing the native grasses to grow and preserve wildlife habitat. Our representatives can assist the land owners in designing a clearing plan that best suits the needs of each property.
Q: Why are cedar and mesquite trees perceived as a water wasting nuisance?
A: Both cedars and mesquites are very invasive on our water supply. Though both can consume a lot of water, they have different ways of retrieving it. Cedars are very good at catching the water before it hits the ground and mesquites are quite efficient at pulling the water out of the ground. These trees are non-native to the Texas Hill Country and surrounding areas, and due to the cattle industry they made their presence known sometime during the 1800’s. Both species can spread very quickly covering hundreds of acres in under a decade. Not only can these trees consume large amounts of water a day but their sheer numbers can cripple healthy grassland for livestock and local wildlife in the years to come if they are not managed.
Q: Why do we suggest the use of the Grubber when clearing mesquite?
A: We have mulched fields of mesquite in the past and if they are not maintained the mesquite will grow back. We were not happy with this result so we set out to find a solution that was cheaper and less invasive than dozing or root plowing. Unlike a dozer, the Grubber selectively neutralizes the mesquite by removing the taproot with minimal soil disturbance. This method allows you to keep the natural grasses already growing in your pasture and you will not lose valuable top soil like you would with a dozer. Since the Grubber removes the taproot in one move your cost is much lower than dozing and root plowing and you will have a higher rate of kill than by chemically spraying.
Q: Do we mulch oak trees that have been killed by oak wilt?
A: Yes, we mulch the infected, dead, or dying oaks. The cost to clear these trees is usually much higher than when we are dealing with cedar. This is mainly due to the variances of density in the oak wood as it is difficult to give a land owner an exact bid on how long it will take to mulch the infected trees. Some move fairly quickly due to holes in the tree or from the exposure to the elements. Others move slowly when the wood is dry and very dense. The hard wood also takes a toll on our machinery so the hourly rate is usually much higher to cover the cost of repair. These are all things we must take into account when we give you an estimate.
Q: When is the best time to clear oak trees that suffer from oak wilt?
A: The best time to remove the infected oaks is between late fall and early spring. The cooler weather allows our machines to not only be able to handle the harder wood but also helps aid in keeping the now inactive spores from spreading as they do during mid spring through summer into mid fall.
Q: What kind of steps do we take to prevent oak wilt?
A: We try to take every precaution necessary to keep from spreading oak wilt. Our hand crews paint the oaks we cut when we are working on a property that has the disease or when the disease is located nearby. Our operators clean off our machines daily to keep from transferring any contaminated debris. We also try to keep any and all infected trees separated from healthy oaks. If a land owner is still worried we will wash the machine using a mixture of bleach and water.
Q: Are we familiar with the NRCS?
A: Yes, we are familiar with the NRCS and we are an EQUIP approved contractor. If you have applied for governmental assistance in clearing your land then we can work closely with you and your local extension agent in devising a clearing plan. If you are not familiar with the NRCS you can learn more by visiting their website at www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov .
Q: What size jobs do we do?
A: We work with land owners who own thousands of acres all the way down to those with one acre. Although our primary focus is on the private land owners, we also work closely with commercial contractors, municipalities, and governmental agencies. For many of our customers that own larger tracts of land we will develop a clearing plan that takes a course of several years and will work within their yearly budgets to meet their Wildlife and Ag Exemption needs. As for the smaller jobs, we do require an 8 hr minimum.