How to develop uncleared land into your dream farm


The historic low inventory of horse farms for sale in Moore County, North Carolina, may have you considering buying land and building and developing your own farm. When considering the purchase of a tract of land to build a house on it can be a bit overwhelming if you are considering purchasing a tract of land to build a farm on, and that tract is mostly wooded can go from overwhelming to absolutely daunting. However, it really doesn’t need to be that way in fact taking a fairly heavily wooded parcel in creating a beautiful farm is really a very simple process.


The process of course begins with selecting the right property. There is no question that it is more difficult to get the lay of the land when the property is thick with trees and underbrush versus a property that has already been cleared. I do believe however some very good properties get past on because prospective buyers are too quick to walk away from a heavily wooded parcel.

There are a few things that you will want to determine before you purchase the land:


1 How many usable acres do you need for your intended use.


2 It is good to know if you have a preference in topography, some people like land that has a little roll to it other people prefer land that is very flat. The two things I like to do to determine whether or not the topography of the property is appropriate is to meander through the woods and just get a feel for the terrain, the other very important tool is a topographical map this will show me exactly where the property is steeper and where the property is flatter.



After determining the amount of acreage required and the preferred topography then it is important to determine if the property is suitable for your needs.

The first thing I will want to check for is if there are any wetlands on the property, and although I do not consider wetlands a dealbreaker it is important to determine how much of the acreage is taken up in wetlands and how much of the acreage remains clearable and buildable. If wetlands are present, it is vital to get the property delineated in order to determine exactly where you can and cannot clear. Secondly, it is very important to make sure that the soil is conducive to a septic system. This is done very simply by hiring a soil scientist to go out to the property and take soil samples from multiple areas around the property. Based on the consistency and on the type of soil the soil scientist can map out all areas on the property that are the most adequate for a septic system.


After you completed your pre-purchase evaluations for land use and made the decision to purchase the property it is time to begin clearing the land.


The most important thing is to have a vision and start with a plan. Now that you have a good understanding of the topography and what portions of the property can and cannot be cleared you should be able to get a good idea of where to place the house, barn, and pastures.


Begin the clearing process by first taking out all the small trees and underbrush by doing this you will gain a great deal of visibility which will allow you to really see the land for the first time. At this time you may decide to alter your vision a little based on what you see, this is normal. The next step is to go through the property and mark all the trees that you would like to leave in place, I do believe it is a good idea to air on the side of caution and leave a few more trees in place than you may think you want as you cannot put them back. Sometimes the larger trees will have considerable value as timber, when this happens it is like a super bonus as many times you can offset the cost of clearing by harvesting the timber.


After a significant portion of the larger trees have been removed is time for another evaluation, make sure you’re still happy with your master plan. At this time you may decide to remove a few more trees in order to get the exact look you want. Now that the larger trees have been removed from the property it is important to remove all the stumps and roots. This is simply done by digging them up. It is very important to remove the stumps and not to bury them. When a stump is buried, it will rot in the ground forming a soft spot in which a horse’s leg can easily penetrate creating a significant hazard in a pasture. In this area burning is legal and easy to do, so the best solution is to dig up all your stumps and roots push them up into a big pile, and burn them. After removing the stumps, it is important to go back over the cleared area and grade the soil so that it is level and smooth, and ready for seeding. It is important to know what to seed with, for example, if your land is ready for seeding in the fall it would be advisable to seed with a winter grass like rye and then reseed in the spring with a summer which here in the sandhills of North Carolina would most likely be coastal Bermuda. Fertilizing your newly seeded soil is an important part of the process to ensure that you get maximum growth. In most cases it will take about a year before your newly seeded area is ready to be a pasture.



Taking a piece of land from heavily wooded acreage and turning it into a fully functioning horse farm is not a difficult process, it is however time-consuming and it is important to follow a step-by-step procedure. However, the rewards of creating a farm from scratch are well worth the time invested in it.


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