Hi everyone. I am looking for some advice about restoring this bed on the far side of my driveway. It was neglected and massively covered in vines--you can see some of the dead stuff still hanging and the piles of debris. These pictures show what remains in the bed following vine removal. I have decided to keep what is still there, even though much of it is misshapen or less than completely desirable. There are a couple of black locusts, a tulip tree, two American hollies, a choke cherry or two, and several hackberries. I would like to convert the bed to as naturalistic a micro woods as I can, but this is right on display when people pull in to the driveway and I would like it to be attractive. My ultimate goal for the 1 acre property is to shift the emphasis to native plants and provide as hospitable an environment as I can for birds, beneficial insects, and butterflies.
My current thinking is to put in a couple of understory trees beneath the locusts and tulip tree. I figure there is room for two small trees, and I am thinking of using a cornus alternifolia and a serviceberry. Where the bed shades into our overgrown Siberian irises I would like to plant a shade tree, and I am leaning towards using River Birch. On the far side of the bed from the driveway, where the dead vines are hanging off the dead branch I think there is room for another shade tree. (The dead branch and the vines are being removed by the tree guy.) I am leaning towards a tupelo or maybe a sassafras. There is currently a misshapen choke cherry there, which I'm leaving for now because of its wildlife value. The trees that are leaning over really far sideways are going to be removed. I would like to extend the bed toward the Siberian irises and put some viburnums in the bed there, where it's sunnier.
Any advice about the bed in general? What about starting some baby oak trees between the tulip tree and the locusts? Eventually those locusts are going to topple, and I would like to replace them with oaks eventually. Oaks are the dominant forest tree around here, although we are right at the edge between the oak forest biome and the pine barrens.