wooded property

Michelle4555November 9, 2013

Hi everyone! We need help on how to proceed with our property. We have 8 acres that was forest. The previous owners bought and cleared underbrush and small tree's and left large ones. Mostly native tree's. They topped all the tree's and kept it all mowed. They left several pockets of the forest untouched mainly to block out other houses. We continued this for 10 years. Here's the kicker in all this. The place has hills everywhere, not one piece of flat land anywhere! Most of which is at least 35 degree angles.

Our question is we want to let the place go back to it's natural environment. We have nothing but dirt on the hills and the place is getting steeper. We cannot grow grass as there are too many tree's. We need to stop the erosion and would like to just leave it. Leaves and all, as it is difficult to maintain.

Would like to know the problems with this and how to address them. I went to our local conservation dept. in our county and all they said, after describing the place was "I'm sorry"! Since you all have actual hands on experience I would love any help we can get. Thank you

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I haven't much to offer advice-wise but am curious as to replies on this one. I live on a small mt. and my property is one long, steep slope. I have an invasion of japanese stiltgrass which has grown on all the disturbed areas around the house....this property like yours was once wooded. However, there are now large patches of bare dirt and LOTS of rock. What I have done is to bring in mulch...this mulch includes leaves, woodchips, piles of stiltgrass that I covered w/cardboard. I only did one small area last yr but found that the mulch stopped run off, helped the soil retain moisture and it stamped out the stiltgrass. I am also growing more understory shrubs such as spicebush (Lindera benzoin), paw paws and viburnums because these are already growing on the wooded portion of the property. I think these shrubs will help stop some erosion and they'll provide more shade for woodland plants. I don't know if this is the way to go or whether it is applicable to your situation.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 4:42PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Just stopped in to this forum and saw your post. I would say just turn your back on it is the easiest way to go, leaving branches where they fall and most importantly let the leaves remain on the ground to blanket the soil. How do the mature trees look? Topping doesn't normally produce a nice tree, but if that's all you have, so be it.
Don't feel trapped in by what the previous owners did. Unless there are bunches of deer or all kinds of nasty invasive plants coming in, some sort of natural forest should establish in no time and your erosion problems should settle down.
I'd be interested to see pictures if you have any.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 12:50PM
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Yep^. The number one issue that you can actually do something about is likely to be the presence of invasive species. Now there's "good invasion" and bad, so just to be clear, when I say invasive, I'm talking about things like buckthorn-don't know if you guys have that down there-which are not merely non-native, but which are fully capable of making life impossible for a wide range of native plants that would otherwise exist on the site.

So long as you've got these things present-not saying you do-there's little point in going forward with much else.

Weird and sad that previous owners topped the trees. Some bad ideas take a long time to die. But there's no way to "un-top" the trees, so you'll just have to live with it. Those trees will never have decent structure,. but maybe they will produce lots of seed for the next generation. And like Kato said, do not remove fallen limbs, leaves, etc. Decomposing fungi are an extremely important part of a healthy forest, and leaving these items on the ground will help to feed these organisms.

Now, somewhat paradoxically, if you really have few to no good, well-structured trees left following the topping, having a professional native landscape company come in and do a controlled burn might be just the ticket to getting regeneration going. But like I said, leave that to the pros. there's a lot to know about proper techniques in that area.

What else can you tell us? Species present? Condition? Presence or absence of serious invasives?


    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 11:19AM
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