How to keep a clearing clear?
Two-thirds of our backyard is woods. When we bought the house, there was a small clearing in the woods -- no bushes or plants, just a few saplings. We knew we'd eventually want the clearing to be completely clear, so 3 years ago when we had some other tree work done, we had the tree guys take out the saplings as well.
Well, I guess the guys and equipment disturbed the many years of dead leaves that had presumably kept down the growth. Because now that "clearing" is full of plants, bushes, more saplings, etc. We haven't attacked it yet, because I don't know what to do to keep it from growing back. We wanted it clear to create a spot for our kids to play (either an open area or a swingset), so I can't just spray chemicals back there. Is there any child-safe, environmentally friendly way to suppress regrowth? (And does anyone have any suggestions of how to clear out what's already there?)