Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter

   / Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter #1  


Elite Member
Nov 24, 2012
Near Johannesburg MI but in the middle of nowhere
2019 LS XR4140 HST Cab; 2020 Kawasaki Mule SX; 2021 Bad Boy 54" ZT Elite
I have hundreds to take out. No desire to bush hog them as I will be working around trees I want to keep, and the BH is too large. Plus I do not want little spikes left sticking up.

I am getting a grapple and see plenty of videos of grabbing brush and carrying it off. One video showed a guy digging under the saplings with a grapple and pulling them out. He seemed to be having a slow go of it.

I was wondering if it is possible to drive the grapple over the tress and curl the bucket so the grapple top lids engages the ground and pull the tress out.

What is the correct way to use a grapple for removing small trees?

Am I better off using a Piranha Bar to uproot the trees? I have a 72" bucket which is going to be a bit large to maneuver. I am thinking a 48" or 55" grapple will be easier to get between the trees I want to keep. Tractor is an LS4140 being delivered tomorrow

   / Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter #2  
I have a 55" Grapple on my JD2032R. I also have a ton of 1"-2" saplings to get rid of, along with a lot of 3" caliper hawthorns with the 2" thorns on them. And then there's all my ash trees which have died. I don't think you want to use the Grapple to try and muscle the trees out. I've been going through my woods, about 2 acres, and have been cutting the 2-3" stuff with a cordless EGO chainsaw. I also have a brushcutter blade on my Stihl weed eater. I use that for the 1" stuff. Once I get rid of most f the brush and trees, then I'll go back and probably just cut the stumps flush with the ground. I have a piranha tooth bar on my bucket, may try to clean out the areas where it was only 1" brush. I've been dropping the trees and cutting them into pieces about 8-10' long. Then I pile up some of this about the size of a pickup truck and light it up on a calm day. Once it gets going, I use the Grapple to grab piles of the stuff I cut and dump it o to the fire. You can really burn up a lot of stuff in an afternoon. It's going to take me awhile, but I'm in no hurry. I also went around and tied some bannerguard around all the bigger trees that I plan I removing just to make it easier to spot them.
   / Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter #3  
A grapple is not the right tool for pulling up trees. A tree puller would be more appropriate.

Grapples are made to grab large things like logs or piles of brush. Small trees will just pull through. I've pulled poison oak vines out of trees with my grapple and it often takes a number of tries before I catch it just right. That's ok for occasional poison oak removal but for hundreds of trees it'd be slower than cutting with a chainsaw and stacking so you can pick up the stacks with the grapple.

My grapple (an EA root grapple) is not really made for digging. The root rake style with short lower tines is better at digging but it's still not really made for digging trees out.
   / Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter #4  
If you are not in a rush:

Cut down saplings with a chain saw. Treat fresh stumps with undiluted 2,4-D herbicide so stumps die, rather than regenerate. Crossroad herbicide, an enhanced 2,4-D herbicide marketed by Rural King, is particularly effective on stumps.

In two years, when feeder roots have decayed, most stumps come out whole, relatively easily, at least in Florida. I cut roots of stubborn residual stumps with a Subsoiler on the Three Point Hitch.
   / Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter #5  
I hate stumps. You can cut them as low as possible and they'll still be poking out of the ground in a year or two.

You need a tree puller.
   / Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter #6  
I've pulled a lot of little 2" (or smaller) trees on my place easily using a chain. I don't know chain sizes but links pencil diameter. Small chain (within reason) worked better for me. Start close to ground, wrap maybe 5 times around, last loop under first...close to ground. Then hook on my loader bucket or backhoe bucket (FEL is faster), a helper also is faster.
This way it just pulls them up roots and all.
Really easy after a good rain.
   / Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter #7  
Pull them...use a chain and some wire rope chokers...make up some 5/16" cable slings, loop around several of the saplings hook to chain attached to drawbar and pull...
   / Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter #9  
What about a rachet rake? They make it look easy in the videos. Been thinking about one myself
   / Removing saplings up to 2" in diameter #10  
Brush grubber works great on the 3-pt hitch or pulling from drawbar, but could get tiresome for hundreds of trees since you have to get off the tractor and hook it up each time.