Brush Sculptors

Applied Landscaping
Multiple Use Management of Texas Rangelands

What is applied landscaping?

“…to arrange and modify the effects of natural scenery over tracts of land so as to produce the best aesthetic effect with regard to the use to which the tract is to be put.” Webster’s 3rd International dictionary

What are some of the uses for Texas rangeland?

Wildlife preservation

Watershed management

Recreational hunting and camping

Enhanced aesthetic diversity

Livestock grazing

What is involved in Brush Sculpting?

Partnerships with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and National Resource Conservation Service will help you to be considerate of

  • your goals for the land,
  • the lay of the land (topography),
  • the kinds of plants on your land (Mesquite, Juniper, Pricklypear, Oak, and mixed brush),
  • the kinds of wildlife on your land,
  • different (chemical and mechanical) techniques for brush removal, and natural ways to shape brush.

Before YOU Start YOU Must Know:

Identifying critical habitat is important.

General Guidelines for
White-tailed deer Bobwhite Quail
  1. Clear small (about 20 acres) irregularly shaped patches scattered throughout the landscape. These clearings should total less than or equal to 40% of the landscape. Leave relatively wide corridors of brush separating the patches that total greater than or equal to 60% of the landscape.
  2. Areas of tall, dense, diverse brush with canopy cover greater than or equal to 85% should be interspersed though out the landscape to provide cover for mature bucks.
  3. Avoid disturbing brush in and along natural drainage areas.
  4. When manipulating brush, leave large, single-stemmed mesquites intact.
  5. Use the brush control method best suited to the habitat. Root plowed is not recommended.
  1. No point in the pasture is further than 25 yards from woody cover,
  2. No more than 90% of the pasture is treated, and
  3. No woody cover object is less than 75 square feet in area.

Also YOU Need to Know:

  • the kinds of plants on your land
  • the plant’s value to animals such as deer and quail
  • your ultimate use for the land whether it be hunting or grazing

The Brush Sculptor’s goal is never to eliminate any species of plant from a tract of land but it is to maintain or increase the diversity of plants and animals.

How do I become a successful Brush Sculptor?

All you need to become successful is:

  1. having a goal in mind
  2. sticking with the program
  3. aerial photos* (available from TNRIS)
  4. flagging tape
  5. a dozer operator or herbicide contractor or brush control contractor**
Demonstration of successful Brush Sculpting on the Little F Ranch
The objective was to sculpt the site for the benifit of white-tailed deer, but consistent with livestock production. Mesquite was the major species present. Secondary species were javelina bush, agarito, prickly pear, hackberry, and chittam.
Sculpting Plan:
The goal was removal of 50-70% of the mesquite. An aerial photo was scanned into a computer and converted into a digital image. Using a “paint” program (many home computers come with a prepackaged paint program) a plan was designed that would leave many of the desirable brush plants intact, and would create a pattern of clearings beneficial to wildlife. Gary Foster (rancher) then used the marked image as a blueprint to direct clearing activities.
After Treatment:
Mesquites less than 8 feet tall were treated with the Brush Busters foliar spray method. An average of 174 mesquites per acre were treated at a cost of $18.74. Remaining brush designated to be cleared was removed by treedozing and the use of hydraulic tree shears.

Sculpting with DOQ Photography, GPS and GIS – A Case History

Step 1
Digital Orthophot Quads (DOQs) of the ranch are obtained from TNRIS. The photos are color infrared with 1m resolution. From the photo major plant communities, roads, fences and structures could be identified.
Step 2
Using GIS software, topography of the ranch was layered over the DOQ photograph.
Step 3
Using GIS software to identify the target species (shinnery oak) final decisions were made concerning location, size and shape of treated areas. This information was downloaded and then transferred into the spray plane’s GPS navigation equipment.
Step 4
During March 2000, a spray plane was loaded with the herbicide Spike 20p. The pilot, using GPS to guide him and the information provided by GIS, flew to the site selected for treatment. GPS was then used to guide the plane on each pass and to notify the pilot when he was entering and leaving the target site. Using no flagmen the Spike 20p was precisely placed where needed.