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Old 07-13-2013, 01:14 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
30,594 posts, read 22,113,555 times
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If I had undeveloped property near, but not right up against, my house, I'd plant seedling trees. I'd start a woodland. Once the trees are high enough, they will shade out a lot of underbrush. You might plant bulbs at the edge of the woodland.

I probably would not want the upkeep, especially at first, of a huge plat of young trees, but I might do an half acre that way.

Obviously, you need to plant native species, or at least trees that can cope in the wild with your conditions.

For keeping your grasses and brush down, have you considered hiring a goatherd?
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silibran View Post
If I had undeveloped property near, but not right up against, my house, I'd plant seedling trees. I'd start a woodland. Once the trees are high enough, they will shade out a lot of underbrush. You might plant bulbs at the edge of the woodland.

I probably would not want the upkeep, especially at first, of a huge plat of young trees, but I might do an half acre that way.

Obviously, you need to plant native species, or at least trees that can cope in the wild with your conditions.

For keeping your grasses and brush down, have you considered hiring a goatherd?

Seedling trees is a good idea if you're going to be on the property for a long time. But it does take many many years to become a real woodland; the soils will change over time with all the variables the trees bring. Once the soils evolve, the woodland plants show up. Then -- wildlife, whether you want it or not. In the meantime, it would be a grassland with trees, but that can be really beautiful. Our county extension service sells seedlings every year for cheap cheap cheap. I think they're about two dollars apiece, and you need to buy minimum bundles of them. I keep saying I'm going to buy a few dozen Eastern Redcedars (the only native evergreen here) for a future windbreak, but I never get around to it. That, or I don't want to be watering all those baby trees for several years in this ongoing drought. That's a whole lot of hose dragging.

Great idea though -- maybe the OP can call his county extension office to see what they offer.
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Old 07-14-2013, 03:15 AM
 
Location: Delmarva Peninsula
8,971 posts, read 12,888,235 times
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We had a 160 acre farm, with about 10 acres surrounding the house. Our 10 acres was similar, overgrown and with junk trees. IMO, owning garden/farm equipment is necessary. Mowing (when it needs it) will not help. There needs to be scheduled days for maintenance, which will become easier as time goes on. Not sure where the OP's property is located, though, in regard to weather conditions and terrain. We did not want to plant trees which would require more maintenance, and just wanted clear land, green grass, and some fencing around our house. Beyond that 10 acres, there were borders of trees, separating the homestead from our grain fields, so it wasn't all baron land. It took us 3-4 years to get that 10 acre property cleaned up.

Last edited by rdlr; 07-14-2013 at 03:29 AM..
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Old 07-14-2013, 06:30 AM
 
Location: Floyd Co, VA
3,513 posts, read 6,014,517 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tucalota View Post
Hello All! First time poster and visitor.

The property is hilly with a creek running through part of it. About 2 acres are thick with overgrown trees and brush lining the creek.
It may seem like the area around the creek is simply an overgrown mess but do some research about riparian buff zones in your region before you decide on and start any major changes. It may be that the best thing you can do is leave that area as natural as possible.

I hope that you get to spend more time at the country place and really enjoy it.
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Old 07-14-2013, 08:16 AM
 
2,063 posts, read 7,373,667 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zugor View Post
It may seem like the area around the creek is simply an overgrown mess but do some research about riparian buff zones in your region before you decide on and start any major changes. It may be that the best thing you can do is leave that area as natural as possible.

I hope that you get to spend more time at the country place and really enjoy it.

I wasn't going to add to this thread since everyone is basing what you should do on experiences not in your county. Zugor brings up the point of a riparian corridor which so many people have been ignoring or treating as a nuisance. Your area has some environmental and planning regulations in place that may not only effect your future plans for building but also what you do to maintain the property right now. There is a great deal of interest in preserving water and water quality and there are landscape regulations in Riverside County that have to do with it. The closer you are to the lake the more likely your stream/creek will be regulated.


For a while I worked in another state with landowners, usually after they had broken the rules, on how to mitigate and fix the environmental damage they had done or had started doing. Often it was clearing out and filling in wetlands, clearing riparian buffer zones and removing "junk" trees in large quantities without a permit (does this sound familiar?). I had to work out ways that they could still do what they wanted within the law and also protect the environment. Each state has different amounts of regulation and counties, and even individual municipalities, can have additional regulations affecting property changes. Why not check in with the county and find out what you are allowed to do, and what may require a permit, before buying expensive equipment and then having to pay for fines and mitigation?
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:55 AM
 
8,287 posts, read 10,959,080 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zugor View Post
It may seem like the area around the creek is simply an overgrown mess but do some research about riparian buff zones in your region before you decide on and start any major changes. It may be that the best thing you can do is leave that area as natural as possible.
^^^^^^
This.

One of my biggest beefs is when people move to the country and then treat their land as if it were a city lot. Keep it as natural as possible, clear a little around the house, and learn to enjoy your natural surroundings.

Before you make any changes to the landscape, you really need to first know what you have. What may appear to be just a weed at one point in the year may turn out to be a splendid fall-blooming wildflower. Green is good--keep as much as you can.

You are fortunate to have a creek on your property. A vegetated riparian corridor will attract a great variety of bird species and other wildlife. Buy a bird identification book and keep a list of all that you see on the property. Remember, it's not just "your" home--it's theirs, too. Learn to live with your new "neighbors" and look into enhancing their habitat by planting native species, not clearing them.

Maintaining a natural landscape can also be a lot less work--leaving you time to enjoy your property more. I simply mow about 1/2 acre around my house and I have mowed trails in the 1/4-mile long field and woods areas behind my house. My biggest challenge is keeping the non-native invasive species under control--but at least that work is clearly beneficial. My wildflowers thank me.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:27 AM
 
7,280 posts, read 10,282,405 times
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The more natural you can keep the property the less maintenance and more enjoyment of it you will have.

Nature maintained that property for a very long time without too many issues.

Other than for fire hazards, why try to "maintain" what nature takes care of for you? What looks overgrown, messy and neglected to one appears as a natural paradise to others.

The easiest thing to change is perspective. Gain an appreciation for what nature provided and take the joy for free. Once you start cutting and clearing where do all the animals that use the cover go? Lots of people never think about it until there is only silence and they long for the birds and critters that come with property.

There is a reason it is called country property and not city property. Cut and clear and before long you'll have insect problems that birds and small animals used to take care of, constant mowing to maintain brush that shelter and cover small animals and provide nesting for birds and so on.

After all that, you'll have a nice country lot with absolutely nothing on it except people. Then you can go on vacations to visit some "natural" places.
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Old 07-15-2013, 11:30 AM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
7,841 posts, read 8,554,481 times
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Well said, jackmichigan and mack knife!

Nature likes messy! Messy provides food and shelter for lots of critters. Messy prevents erosion.

Even if you are going to build a year-round home on this property, clearing all of it isn't necessary. A half acre (approx 150' x 150') is plenty for a house, garage, tool shed, and veggie garden.

For a camp/cottage, I'd go with even less, a quarter of an acre (about 100 x 100). Are you going to spend all your time there mowing lawn? Clear some trails around the property and call it "done".
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:03 PM
 
Location: SC
2,966 posts, read 4,892,724 times
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Why put in lots of plantings and landscaping, and create more work for yourself?

Plant several groves of pine trees and let them fill in; buy the largest ones you can afford. Allow certain areas to reclaim by simply keeping vines and some noxious scrub tore out once per year until the trees become established. Seed the area with some nice tall hardwoods scattered around to give it a jump start.

Read up on permaculture and learn to let the land work naturally for you with minimal input. It's kind of a holistic approach...

I have always lived on closer to 10 acre plots, and one thing I found is that creating plantings, mulched areas, etc, creates 10x more work once you start fighting weeds, etc., each year.
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Old 07-15-2013, 01:41 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 17,314,314 times
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I so agree with the above few posts!

My wooded lot was a tangle of downed, rotted trees and branches, trash (including about 20 discarded tires), vines and all manner of flowering weeds. I neither wanted the work of maintaining a manicured landscape, nor could I leave it the messy way it was without getting a ticket from the township. I'm not techically rural although I am close to farms and woods. My property isn't large; I think just shy of a half acre.

So I cleared out about a ton (perhaps literally) of trash and branches (got a burn permit to burn the wood) and generally cleaned it up. I pay a guy to come through once in a while with a modified weed-whacker and a brush-hog type mower that will take down big woody vines and grass. BUT he leaves some stands of flowering wild plants for pollinating insects and because they are pretty , the blackberry bushes, the wild vines on the fence at the far side and back...I left all the trees intact except for one dead ash.

I read about a program where if you're in certain areas, local extensions will provide you with native seeds to create a self-sustaining meadow-type environment to provide forage and shelter for native birds and bugs. I haven't looked into this recently but that may be an option.
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