Good Grub: What Is Clearing and Grubbing?

When you hear the words “land development” what comes to mind? Vast structures of metal and concrete? Large cranes transporting materials?

Before any of that occurs, there are a few key steps that need to come first for proper land development. Two of the most crucial steps are clearing and grubbing.

If you want to learn what exactly clearing and grubbing are and how they fit into the early stages of land development, keep reading. 

What Are Clearing and Grubbing?


After a plot of land has been surveyed and depending on whether any site demolition needs to take place, the clearing process can begin.

Clearing is simply the removal of any vegetation which is visible on the surface. This includes grass, weeds, plants, bushes, trees, etc.  

The type of equipment you will need for clearing is based on the size of the land and the amount of vegetation on it. A small plot can be taken care of with a shovel and saw. A large plot of land will require heavy machinery, such as a feller buncher, a masticator, and an excavator.


Grubbing is the removal of vegetation and debris that reaches beneath the soil. This includes roots, tree stumps, and any debris beneath the surface.

Like with clearing, if you’re dealing with a small plot of land, hand-held tools can get the job done. However, for a larger size project, special machinery is required. This includes: bulldozers, back-hoes, and scrapers.

How to Calculate Clearing Costs 

Land clearing and grubbing costs can vary depending on several factors.

There are different classifications for plots of land which help determine clearing costs. There is flat land with little vegetation, hilly land with moderate vegetation, and heavily wooded or forested land. The more abnormal the terrain and numerous the vegetation, the higher the costs.

To calculate an average idea of clearing costs, you can assume you’ll be paying between $1.25 – $2.00 per square foot.

What Comes After?

Once the land is cleared and grubbed, other steps are in due order. The land needs to be graded and there needs to be soil remediation and stabilization. 

Land grading levels the ground, it keeps the ground level and at an even surface. This is important as a level surface helps to lay a strong foundation for any building or structure. This process also includes removing runoff water and creating proper drainage for the land. 

Soil remediation is the process of “healing” or improving the soil. Some soil may have contaminants or may be in poor condition. Remediation helps to eliminate the contaminants and enrich the soil.

There are many techniques for doing this. Each is meant for a differnet type of contaminant like water pollution, oil, or toxic gases for example. Some methods include the use of chemicals and even subjecting the soil to extreme heat. 

Soil stabilization is a process for strengthening the soil. This is usually done with chemicals. It allows the soil to withstand extreme weather conditions and support heavy structures.

Begin Your Journey in Land Development

Clearing and grubbing as well as soil remediation and stabilization are all vital parts of a much larger process we know as land development. You should now have a solid footing to begin your journey in land development. To learn more and get started on your own project, visit BuildPro and see what’s happening in the world of earthwork.

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