How Much Does Land Clearing Cost?

Common Range: $1,340 – $4,630 Per Acre

National Average: $2,985 Per Acre

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Updated: February 2, 2023, by: Steve Hansen

Average Cost for Land Clearing for Construction

The average cost to clear land is $1,340 – $4,630 for a lightly wooded acre of land. This includes tree removal and stump disposal, basic leveling of the area and moderate cleanup of the ground when completed. If you need overseeding or any other work done, it is a separate project.

Average Cost Ranges

The average cost for land clearing cost is $1,340 for a small suburban lot and $4,630 for lots up to 2-3 acres. Of course, heavily wooded lots cost more to clear than those with less vegetation.

Average Do It Yourself Cost
$1,400 (Machine Rental Only)
Average Contractor Cost
$2,985 Per Lightly Wooded Acre
Typical Cost Range
$1,340 – $4,630 Per Acre

excavator clearing land of trees and stumps

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Overview of Land Clearing

Land clearing is common step in preparing for new home construction, an addition to your current home, or just about any reason you want more usable space on your property. Trees and brush along the road and in the ditch have to be cleared to gain access to the property, and if you need to have temporary electric service for contractors to have power, that space needs to be cleared per the power companies requirements.

Then, the homeowner has to decide which trees to keep and which to remove to make room for the home and garage, driveway, patio, or metal storage shed.

It is crucial that that the roots of the trees and brush be removed as well, so that stumps and new growth don’t continue to be an issue in years to come. In addition, the topsoil must remain in place to support the sod or grass seed. Large holes caused by root removal must be filled and leveled.

In short, land clearing cost is high because the company doing the work must take care to leave the property in good condition to sustain the landscape installed after home construction is complete.

Have the land survey available. Supply the company doing the clearing a copy of the land survey – it will help too if boundaries are clearly staked or flagged. This ensures that your property gets fully cleared – and adjoining property isn’t disturbed.

Call 811. It’s free. This is a service provided by local utility companies. Just dial 811 to be connected. Someone will come to the property and mark existing underground utilities. This ensures they aren’t damaged when uprooting trees or grading the property.

Land Clearing Cost Factors

Most contractors have a minimum fee for land clearing – around $500 to $1,000 for a 1/8-acre or 1/4-acre suburban lot. The fee covers the time and travel expense in trucking the heavy equipment to and from the property. The further the haul, the higher the starting cost.

Beyond that, these factors are used to produce land clearing estimates.

  • Land Size – Obviously, all else being equal, it costs more to clear larger lots than small lots.
  • How Heavily Wooded the Lot Is – Another obvious one, more trees and brush to be cleared means a higher cost.
  • Sloped Terrain – Once the vegetation is cleared, there is nothing to hold topsoil in place. On sloped ground, erosion control measures will increase total cost.
  • Rocky Soil – Pushing soil with rocks in it is difficult, plus it is hard on equipment. Cost is higher for clearing rocky ground.
  • Types of Trees – Hardwoods take significantly more time to uproot and clear than pines and other softwoods. Just remember to consider whether those hardwoods have timber value.
  • Stump Grinding – Many trees can be pushed out of the ground, stump and all, with a bulldozer. When the tree is cut down and the stump ground to below ground level, cost is higher.

Tip – Know the Rules about Tree Removal. Some cities and homeowner associations (HOA) prohibit clear-cutting or the removal of large trees – and they fine property owners who fail to follow the rules. Any contractor you hire should know the rules – but you as the property owner are ultimately responsible.

What About Building Demolition – Tearing down an old home or barn is beyond the scope of this cost estimate. It can bring with it a range of other expenses including the need for a permit, dumpster rental and special handling of hazardous materials like asbestos siding.

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property pin marker with red flag for easy location

Land Clearing Costs and Services

Equipment rental costs are listed here for those considering DIY. Costs include drop off/pickup/insurance and a full tank of gas.

Then, you’ll find sample land clearing cost estimates for common property sizes and levels of difficulty.

  • $550 – $700 per Day / $2,000 – $2,600 per Week | Bulldozer Rental – Cost is based on dozer size and how far it must be hauled. Bulldozers are used to push trees and brush out of the ground, roots and all.
  • $750 – $1,100 per Day / $2,300 – $3,200 per Week | Excavator Rental – Cost based on size and distance. Excavators are used to dig out stubborn stumps, usually of hardwood trees. Very large stumps need grinding. Also, if you’re comfortable with running an excavator, you can use it to dig the hole for the home’s foundation.
  • 75 – $125 per Day / $300 – $450 per Week | Woodchipper Rental – If you have a large number of trees in the 2” to 5” diameter range, you might want to chip them for use in landscaping or around a children’s play area.
  • $90 – $150 per Day / $500 – $600 per Week | Stump Grinder Rental used on large hardwood stumps that are too big to push out with a dozer or pull up with an excavator.
  • $50 – $100 per Day / $200 – $400 per Week | Chainsaw Rental. If there are only a few trees that need to be removed, this is a cost-effective option. Keep in mind that cutting down large trees is dangerous, and you might want to call in a tree removal specialist.
  • $250 – $1,000 per Day / $950 – $4,000 per Week | Dump Truck Rental. Cost is based on truck size and capacity between about 5 cubic yards and 30 cubic yards. Renting the largest dump trucks usually requires a CDL/Commercial driver’s license.
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Sample Land Clearing Cost Estimates

Land size and site factors affect cost. Site factors can be divided into three tiers for the sake of estimating prices: Easy, Average and Difficult.

  • Easy: Flat terrain, easy access, lightly covered in small trees and brush – no large trees removed. Bulldozer only.
  • Average: Flat or slightly rolling terrain, moderately covered in small trees and brush plus some larger trees that need removing land grubbing. Some trees in a ditch must be removed and/or a culvert and gravel placed in the ditch to provide access. Bulldozer and excavator or stump grinder used.
  • Difficult: Flat or sloped terrain. Erosion control might be required. Difficult access and heavily wooded. Culvert and gravel in ditch. Bulldozer, excavator and stump grinder used.

Note: The culvert and gravel are often installed by the city or county when a building permit is approved. The installation also indicates where the driveway must be placed.

Land Clearing Cost by the Acre

Cost to Clear Up to 1/4 Acre

  • Easy: $900 – $1,350
  • Average: $1,200 – $1,750
  • Difficult: $1,600 – $2,300

Cost to Clear 1/4 to 1/2 Acre

  • Easy: $1,100 – $1,800
  • Average: $1,650 – $2,250
  • Difficult: $2,075 – $3,100

Cost to Clear 1 Acre

  • Easy: $1,475 – $2,300
  • Average: $1,900 – $3,125
  • Difficult: $2,450 – $3,800

Cost to Clear 2-5 Acres

  • Easy: $2,175 – $5,250
  • Average: $2,550 – $6,400
  • Difficult: $2,900 – $7,600

Cost to Clear 5-10 Acres

  • Easy: $950 – $1,200 per acre
  • Average: $1,275 – $1,950 per acre
  • Difficult: $1,800 – $3,000 per acre

Ignore land clearing cost per square foot estimates. They don’t add up! For example, Home Advisor, a normally reliable estimating site, says “expect to pay about $1.30 to $2 a square foot” for land clearing, but then gives a cost estimate of $250 to $1,000 per acre. Well, even at $1.30/square foot, a one-acre site would cost more than $56,000 to clear. 1 acre = 43,560 square feet. HomeGuide makes the same error.

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Permits, Inspection, and Labor Costs

Permits and Inspection

  • $0 – $225 | Local cities and counties have different rules on land clearing permits. In some, it is included with a building permit or simply isn’t needed. In other locations, it is a separate permit. Call the city/county office for details – and the contractor you hire should know the local rules.

Labor Cost

Labor costs can add up quickly, especially when heavy equipment is being used.

  • $15 – $25 per Hour | General Labor
  • $20 – $40 per Hour | Crew Leader
  • $100 – $250 per Hour | Heavy Equipment Use with Operator

Time to Clear Land

A crew of two to three people and equipment can clear 1-4 acres per day depending on how heavy the brush, trees and other obstacles are.

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Are You a Land Clearing or Excavating Pro?

If so, head over to our Costimates Pro’s page, and help us make this page better and more accurate for both our visitors and your future customers.

DIY or Hire a Pro

If you enjoy outdoor projects and have experience running equipment from a chainsaw to a dozer, then DIY land clearing is definitely worth considering. Otherwise, it makes sense to hire a professional for the job.

If you DIY, you’ll probably be renting equipment at steep daily/weekly rates. As a result, it will control cost if you can get the land cleared in a timely manner. If rental costs bleed over into a second or third week, you likely won’t save a lot of money – if any.

Partial DIY is an option too. For example, if you want to do the general clearing with a bulldozer but are apprehensive about cutting down large trees, then call an arborist or tree trimmer for that part of the work. Or if you’re OK cutting down trees, but want to hire a stump grinder, that’s a possibility too.

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Compare Costs from Leading Resources

  • HomeAdvisor: $1,345 - $5,525, Total Job Cost Range
  • HomeGuide: $1,150 - $3,680, Total Job Cost Range
  • LawnStarter: $1,266 - $3,900, Total Job Cost Range
  • Angi: $1,343 - $5,528, Total Job Cost Range
  • Lawn Love: $1,565 - $4,520, Total Job Cost Range

Common Questions and Answers

What does land clearing involve?

Removing unwanted trees, brush, and roots down to about 1 foot below the surface. Grinding large stumps might also be needed.

How much does it cost to clear my own land?

The cost of equipment rental or purchase, if needed. Most homeowners pay $1,200 to $2,000 for DIY land clearing based on what they have to rent or buy and how long it takes.

Does land clearing include leveling?

Usually not. The ground will be smoothed/graded, with a final grade coming after construction. But removing significant slope isn't part of standard land clearing costs.

How long does it take to clear one acre of land?

A professional crew takes 1-3 hours to clear each acre depending on how heavily wooded it is. A DIY homeowner with rented equipment might take a day or weekend to get it cleared.

Reviewed and Edited by Steve Hansen of Costimates

steve hansen of costimates-sm Steve Hansen is the Lead Editor of Costimates. (Learn more) An avid home improvement professional with more than 35 years experience in both DIY projects and working as a construction foreman in residential new home building, upfits, repairs and remodeling.

"Like most homeowners, I became frustrated with the lack of quality information available on specific home improvement repairs and renovations. In 2015, Costimates was formed to help homeowners learn as much as possible about various projects and their costs so they could make better financial decisions."