How Much Does it Cost to Clear Land?

Typical Range:

$1,283 - $5,049

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 1,160 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

How We Get This Data































  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated September 2, 2021

Reviewed by Cati O'Keefe, Expert Home Building & Sustainability Contributor.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

How Much to Clear Land?

Clearing land and preparing a construction site will cost about $3,163 or between $1,283 and $5,049. This project averages $1.30 to $2 per square foot or $250 to $1,000 per acre. Clearing heavily forested land may raise the price up to three times more.

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National Average $3,163
Typical Range $1,283 - $5,049
Low End - High End $400 - $12,000

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 1,160 HomeAdvisor members.

2. Average Cost of Clearing Land by Lot Size

AcreageCost Range
¼ acre$125 - $1,400
½ acre$250 - $2,800
1 acre$500 - $5,600
2 acres$1,000 - $11,200
3 acres$1,500 - $16,800
4 acres$2,000 - $22,400
5 acres$1,250 - $28,000

a. Cost of Clearing a Forested or Wooded Lot

If more than one tree stands on the property, the costs will vary based on how heavily the land is wooded. You will pay between $500 and $2,000 per acre for lightly wooded lots, and between $3,000 and $5,600 per acre for heavily forested land.

For a single tree clearing cost, you can expect to pay an average of $700. However, that cost may vary based on the size of the tree, along with its condition, location and diameter. If you remove fallen trees, you will pay between $75 and $150.

b. Forestry Mulching Prices

Forestry mulching prices run about $400 to $600 per acre. Forestry mulching is using heavy equipment to cut trees and brush flush to the ground and mulching the material as it is taken down. If you go this route, you will end up with a healthy layer of mulch on your ground, and you won’t have to pay as much for debris removal.

c. Tree Clearing Cost

You will pay between $500 and $2,000 per acre to clear lightly wooded lots, and between $3,000 and $5,600 per acre for heavily forested land. If there are only a few trees on your lot, you will pay about $700 a tree. Fallen trees are less expensive to remove at approximately $75 to $150 apiece.

d. Brush Removal Cost

You will pay less to clear underbrush than to remove trees, thanks to the fact that their above- and below-surface area is significantly less cumbersome to remove. You will pay between $100 and $200 per acre to clear the land of plants, shrubs and smaller-scale overgrowth.

If you decide to do some of the clearing work on your property yourself, you can tackle the brush and fallen branches and logs and leave the tree work to the professionals. You can source the needed pruning and cutting tools for around $100 to $200. You should factor debris removal into your budget, which can run anywhere from $100 to $800.

You can get simple yard cleanup by using a landscaping firm for $200 to $1,200.

3. Sitework Cost Per Square Foot

Sitework cost per square foot runs between $1.30 to $2.00. For example, if you want to prepare a half-acre lot and your contractor charges $1.75 per square foot, do this two-step math:

  1. Take the number of feet in an acre (43,560) and divide it by two

  2. Multiply the resulting number (21,780) by the cost per square foot charged ($1.75)

Your result is $38,115 to turn a piece of land into a parcel that’s ready for a new home.

Get Quotes From Local Land Clearing Pros

4. Cost to Clear 1/2 Acre of Land

In general, you will pay $500 to $5,600 per acre to clear land. This does not include including topsoil stripping, excavation, hauling dirt to a landfill, grading and other tasks necessary to create a finished lot. The amount you will pay depends on the site’s topography and how much vegetation is growing there, with forested lots costing far more than sites with shrubs and grasses.


$1,500 - $2,800


$250 - $1,000


$50 - $100

5. Cost to Clear an Acre of Land


$3,000 - $5,600


$500 - $2,000


$100 - $200

a. Cost to Clear 2 Acres of Land


$6,000 - $11,200


$1,000 - $4,000


$200 - $400

6. Site Preparation Costs Factors

In addition to the general costs involved in clearing land and preparing a construction site, a number of additional factors can play into the equation as well. They include:

  • Asbestos removal in existing structures: You might pay $1,000-$2,500 for remediation, depending on the size of the problem. See our Asbestos Removal Cost Guide for more info.

  • Proximity of utilities.If you have to run utility lines long distances, you will pay more for site preparation.

  • Keeping specific trees. You may have to pay more for this, particularly if they require a new construction plan.

  • Homeowners’ Associations and potential permits. You could be subject to restrictions that require extra consideration. A land clearing permit can cost as much as $200 on its own.

  • Areas that flood easily or are prone to soil erosion. You should use extra care when addressing erosion control. You can do things like plant ground cover, compact the area or consistently water the ground until construction begins.

a. Lot Clearing and Grubbing Cost Estimate

It costs $500 to $5,600 per acre to clear and grub a site. This typically includes removing trees, shrubs, and other plant matter. It does not include demolition of structures, grading, excavation or other tasks you may need to get your site ready for construction.

b. Lot Clearing, Grading or Leveling

"If you are building on a hillside, be advised: Your site preparation bid may include line items for "topsoil stripping", "excavation" and "export". These are for excavating dirt from the hillside and trucking it to a clean-fill dump site. This process can add a surprising amount of expense to your project."Cati O'Keefe, Expert Home Building & Sustainability Contributor.

It will cost anywhere from $500 to $7,700 for clearing, grading and leveling. If your site is a level grassy lot, you’ll be on the low end. If you have a heavily timbered parcel, bank on the higher side.

Commonly, you will see "lot clearing" and "grading or leveling" as line items on your preparation and excavation bid. These tasks usually include grubbing and refer to removing all timber, bushes, debris and rocks and the use of heavy machinery to sculpt the existing soil into a buildable site.

c. Preparation & Excavation

You will pay about $1.30 to $2 a square foot to prepare land for a build. If your site requires excavation, keep in mind that excavation costs between $1,500 and $5,100. Most companies charge $40 to $150 per hour.

7. Land Development Costs

The typical rate for land development labor, under normal circumstances, falls between $140 and $300 per hour. On average, it takes about two and a half working hours to clear an acre of land, or about $350 to $750.

a. Cost to Develop Land for Building a House

Land development costs about $1.30 to $2 a square foot. To get an accurate cost, you must first understand exactly what you need to do. In most cases, you would need to get prices for the following:

  • Contract for site and grading plans from a civil engineer: $350-$3,000. This will include a survey, drainage plans, erosion prevention and utility/septic location mapping.

  • Pull a permit: $400-$2,300. Contact your local building department for accurate permit cost.

  • Conduct geotechnical or soil testing: $800-$1,800. This work may be required by the city or county.

  • Decide what method to use: You will pay $400-$5,600 per acre for either conventional land clearing or forestry mulching. A contractor can help you choose a method and provide a quote.

  • Remove structures. Demolishing existing structures costs $2-$17 per square foot.

  • Excavate the foundation or basement. The cost to dig a basement is $10-$20 per square foot. It’s often cost-effective to have the basement excavated as soon as the land is cleared and graded. Your builder will determine this based on the permit and build schedule.

  • Install utilities. Many electric utilities and cable companies will pull cable to homes for free, but you may have to pay if your site is far away from public utilities. Homeowners generally must pay for water and sewer lines.

b. Cost to Clear Land for Other Uses

Clearing land for uses other than building a house generally costs about the same $1.30 to $2 per square foot. Be sure to ask your pro if they charge a minimum rate for smaller projects to avoid a surprise.

  • Mobile Home: $650-$2,400 for a single-wide or $1,300-$4,000 for a double-wide. The process is genearlly the same as clearing land for a stick-built home.

  • Driveway: $850-$1,300 for a typical 640 square foot driveway. If the driveway is longer than usual passes through dense woods, you may pay $4,000 or more.

  • Overgrown fence lines: $200-$1,200, depending on the thickness of the plant growth. If trees or sturdy bushes have entwined themselves with the fence, you will probably pay on the high range for this service.

  • Decks, Porches or Patios: $200-$1,200. If the area is wooded, the rule of thumb is that it will cost an average of $700 per tree for removal.

  • Hardscaping or Landscaping: varies. Preparing land for hardscaping and landscaping costs the same $1.30-$2 per square foot but total project costs depend on the size of walkways, lawn, gardens and other features you want to install. Get Advice From a Local Pro For Your Lot Development

8. FAQs

a. How much does it cost to clear my own land?

If you decide to do it yourself, you can rent heavy equipment for approximately $200 to $500 a day. You can get better pricing if you rent equipment by the month, with equipment running about $2,000 to $11,000

b. How long does it take to clear an acre of land?

As a general rule, a professional takes approximately two and a half hours to clear an acre of land. They might take longer for very heavily wood sites, sites with low-lying wet areas, or if there are other obstructions (such as outbuildings or homes).

c. How much does pasture clearing cost?

If you are clearing debris from your land to create a pasture, it will cost between and $400 to $600 per acre for forestry mulching and approximately $500 to $5,600 per acre for conventional land clearing. Here are points to consider when deciding between the two:

  • Forestry Mulching: This process leaves organic material in the soil and helps new ground cover take root and thrive.

  • Conventional Clearing: You may lose valuable topsoil. Hire a Lot Development Company Near You