Frequently asked questions

(Question)  How much does it cost?

(Answer)  There are many many factors that go into determining cost.  Operator and equipment is provided on an hourly rate which is not published here because it changes with external costs such as fuel prices, steel prices, distance to job, etc.  I'm always happy to discuss this in person or via phone or text (918) 777 3505.  With a little more information, I can usually provide a much clearer idea of pricing.  Discounted daily rates are available.

(Question)  How much does mulching clear in a day?

(Answer)  In material under 4" at chest height, mulching can generally clear from 2 to 4 acres in a day.

(Answer)  In material 4" to 6" at chest height, mulching can generally clear from 1 to 2 acres in a day.

(Answer)  In material 6" to 8" at chest height, mulching can generally clear 1 acre a day.

These are very generic answers as it absolutely depends on the makeup and density of the material to be cleared.  For instance, cedar is very quick to mulch where honey locust takes much more time.  Likewise, if material is extremely dense, mulching will take more time than in very sparse vegetation.

(Question)  What can I expect to be left with after the mulching is complete?

(Answer)  After completion of material under 4", most of the material will be turned into the soil.  Re-growth of grasses will begin almost immediately.  You can expect to be able to maintain the property immediately with a riding or finish mower.

(Answer)  After completion of material between 4" and 6", Some of the mulch product will remain on the surface.  This mulch will consist of mostly small material that will begin to decompose back into soil rapidly.  Regrowth of grasses will begin within a few months. You can expect to be able to maintain the property with a brush hog immediately, and with a riding or finish mower within 3 months.

(Answer)  After completion of material between 6" and 8", a thick layer of mulch will remain on the surface.  Soil will most likely not be visible.  Regrowth of grasses will take several months.  You will be able to maintain the property with a brush hog for the first 6 months, then a riding or finish mower after that.

In the real world, most property is a mix of all the above.

(Question)  What about trees larger than 8"?

(Answer)  Often, customers prefer to leave the larger trees for shade, curb appeal, habitat, etc.  However, removal of larger material can be performed as well through various means.  It can be cut down and stumps mulched or removed via mini-excavator and the holes from the root system filled back in.  Material can be removed from site via truck, stacked for burning, or cut and split for firewood.  Some material even has value to local sawmills and can help offset the cost of removal.

(Question)  What is the best time of year to have mulching done?

(Answer)  It really doesn't matter, with the exception of weather.  It's easier to see and asses the job in Winter when all the leaves have fallen, but ultimately, the job will take the same amount of time no matter the season.  However, despite the machine having tracks and very low ground pressure, there's a point where rain or snow will make the site inaccessible.  Here in Oklahoma, the rainy season can last the entire spring during some years (like 2019!).  Summer heat can take it's toll on the machine as well, and requires more cool down time mid day.

(Question)  How does mulching compare to using a dozer?

(Answer)  There's really no comparing the two.  However, I'll do my best to try:

Bull Dozers are exceptional at doing what they were designed to do; moving dirt.  Consequently, in order to remove growth material, 8" to 10"  of the topsoil has to be completely ripped up, the material removed, and as much of the topsoil as possible re-distributed back across the surface.  Much of the smaller material will remain sticking up out of the soil unless a root rake is used, which disturbs the surface even further down.  The remaining soil will absolutely be subject to erosion if there's any slope to the land whatsoever.  As the earth settles back into place, holes will form in the surface where stumps were removed, and the ground will often be left very uneven requiring further dirt work. 

With a mulcher, the growth material is removed above ground and re-distributed across the surface.  If a very fine appearance and quick re-growth is desired, the remaining mulch may be turned into the topsoil disturbing only the top 1" of soil.  Roots and material remain, stabilizing the soil surface and preventing erosion.  Stumps are mulched below topsoil level and decompose into additional topsoil themselves.  No holes are created and the surface is left smoother than before the mulching began.  No additional work is required.

With a dozer, trees and brush are pushed into piles.  These piles have to be dealt with somehow.  They can be loaded into trucks and hauled off (adding additional expense), burned on site where permissible (adding additional labor), or left to remain on premises for 30+ years while they decompose into unsightly mounds of dirt.

With a mulcher, there are no additional expenses of hauling off material, no time spent burning, re-stacking, re-burning, and no unsightly piles or remains.  In fact, old dozer push piles can be mulched and distributed into the surrounding soil smoothing out the land and improving the appearance.

Dozers weigh a LOT, and running on steel tracks, consequently tend to pack the soil underneath them.  When operating near trees you wish to keep, they stand a good chance of killing the root system.  It's also expensive to haul them in and out, and often requires building roads to get them onto the site.

Compact track loaders with mulching heads have very low ground impact due to their lite weight and wide rubber tracks.  They can be driven across lawns, over tree roots, and between objects to get into and out of the work site.

(Question)  What do I need to consider when hiring a mulcher for my project?

(Answer)  All mulchers are NOT created equal!  In fact, because of the gaining popularity and huge benefits of mulching, the term is being used to describe all sorts of equipment that does everything except mulch.  It's even being applied to brush hog devices now.  Truth is, mulching has been around for about 20 years now, but is just gaining in popularity lately due to the advances in true mulching equipment.  There are really only two types of mulching attachments on the market today; disk mulchers and drum mulchers. 

Disk mulchers look and operate similar to a brush hog, but have a large spinning disk with mulching teeth on it.  They are efficient at cutting material down, and do a decent job of mulching small material.  Larger material is generally ripped into large shreds and thrown long distances.  Disk mulchers are at home far away from any structures or livestock and where finished product or appearance is not a priority.

Drum mulchers are the premier mulching attachment, and have come a long way over the  years.  In recent years, they have become far more efficient, and have increased in cutting size.  As the name states, they have a large spinning drum that is covered with either hardened steel or carbide cutting teeth.  They come in sizes up to 72" wide which are run on only the most powerful power units.  They mulch standing trees, cutting in at over 10' high and mulching straight down into the soil.  They can turn the mulch into the soil and back drag over the mulch leaving it looking like a finely mowed lawn.

Power units vary as well.  Not long ago, skid steers with metal tracks over their tires were commonplace.  compact track loaders (skid steers with rubber tracks) were relatively rare and low powered.  Today, CTL's with around 100hp are common and tires in the woods are unheard of.  In order to run the large drum mulchers that do such a great job, late model high horsepower equipment is absolutely required.  The brand of equipment is not very important, as all manufacturers are making great machines for mulching

There are also extreme, large, steel tracked, dedicated mulchers running drum mulching heads.  If you have a very large area to clear, and are not trying to leave specific trees or other obstacles that require maneuverability, these beasts can be a great option.  They are seen most commonly on power line right of ways, massive clear cut jobs, and governmental contract work.

In short, I recommend looking for a late model high horsepower compact track loader running a drum mulching head 72" in width and an operator that knows his/her equipment in order to get the most for your hard earned dollar.

Sundance Forestry LLC   918.777.3505   jerry.patterson@sundanceforestry.com