When you’ve got a small suburban lot with tame turf, upkeep is usually pretty straightforward. But if you’ve got a larger rural lot with some wild spaces, tough to manage brush can be a problem. It can be a huge task to clear brush on your own, whether things are badly overgrown or just in need of some maintenance. It often makes sense to call in a professional with the equipment and expertise to do the job right. And winter is an ideal time to clear brush before new growth starts.
What Is Brush and Why Should I Clear It?
Think of it this way: weeds are the small stuff, and brush is the big stuff. We generally think of brush as woody vegetation, like tree limbs and branches, dead or nuisance bushes, trees and shrubs, along with vines and stumps. Brush includes invasive or unwanted live plants as well as debris. In our area, these often include pesky shrubs like multiflora rose and autumn olive and vines like poison ivy and honeysuckle. Brush tends to crowd out desirable plants and flowers and can be attractive to snakes, rodents and other pests. It can also be a safety hazard and limit families’ ability to enjoy their outdoor spaces.
When Is the Best Time to Remove Brush?
Winter is the perfect time to clear brush. Vegetation is less dense, so it’s easier to prune, rake, hoe and trim. Working on frozen ground doesn’t disturb the soil or impact healthy, desirable plants nearby. You’re also much less likely to run into snakes, get bitten by mosquitoes or other bugs or have a brush with poison ivy while working in the cold weather.
What Tools Do I Need to Clear Brush?
Clearing brush can be a physically demanding job, a few steps beyond pushing a mower. And while some people actually enjoy it, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you want to tackle it yourself, you’ll need the right tools. Here are some important tools for getting the job done:
- A gardening machete is considered by some experts to be the best tool for clearing woody brush. It’s also great exercise but be sure to read safety instructions and be mindful while using a machete.
- Long-handled loppers are a must. They’re like pruning shears with an extra-long handle to cut thick stalks and woody vines.
- A ditch bank blade (also called a briar ax or sling blade) is a long-handled J-shaped blade that’s ideal for weed cutting and brush clearing, especially for briars or anything with prickles or spikes.
- A string trimmer is best for tall grass and can trim everything up after you’ve removed the bigger plants.
- Have a chainsaw on hand to cut dead trees and thicker logs and branches.
- Gardening basics, including a light spring rake and heavier hard rake, a hoe and a shovel, help with finishing the job.
- You’ll want to remember sturdy work gloves, eye protection, protective clothing and appropriate footwear.
How Can I Keep Brush From Growing Back?
To keep brush from growing back, many experts recommend applying a chemical herbicide like Triclopyr onto cut stumps and stems or mixing into the soil. Some gardeners have had success with using landscape fabric and more natural homemade vinegar and salt solutions to prevent regrowth. In our region, you can also burn brush in some cases, but this should be done under carefully controlled conditions and following all local regulations to prevent fires.
Should I Clear Brush Myself or Hire a Pro?
So many of our gorgeous Loudoun County homes have spacious lots that need lots of maintenance that goes beyond just pulling a few weeds and keeping up with mowing. Brush clearing is a fact of life for many of us. Some folks like to tackle this kind of work themselves, and it’s totally doable. But DIY involves a ton of work and a significant time commitment, so it’s just not possible for everyone. You should also plan to spend several hundred dollars on equipment if you’re taking this on for the first time on your own. If you don’t have the time for DIY brush clearing or would rather be spending that time enjoying your landscape, Epling’s amazing team have the skills, tools and workforce to knock it out just the way you want. We can also safely and effectively treat your landscape to prevent brush from growing back. Now is the perfect time to make a plan to start beating back the wilderness and opening up your gorgeous landscape.