Not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for our woods. 

  • They give us privacy
  • Support wildlife
  • Make cooling shade in the summer, shifting light and shadow  in winter
  • Great spaces to grow natives
  • Room to expand

Here’s how I’m turning a patch of vines and briars into a bed for spring planting:

1) Placement:  I divide my woods with paths which I lay out using old firewood or a rake.  Don’t try to do this all at once–I work on sections or layers, moving away from the house.  And don’t layout your paths (and the beds that form around them) and finalize right away.  Live with the new areas.  Walk them, look at them from the house and garden before you take the next step.

2) Clear: Decide what you want to keep, them start hacking away.  In the bed I’m working on, a native fringe tree (what a treasure!) and some nice hardwoods will stay.    But I’m removing lots of small sweet gums and a bunch of briars and vines.  

First step–cut back.  Second step–go for the roots.  You won’t be able to get them all, but the more you can root out the better. 

In the case of small saplings, cut them close to the ground.  Cover with plastic, and/or cardboard.  If that doesn’t do the trick,  and they sprout back in summer,  spray the new foliage with Round up and keep at it. 

Logs lay out the new path/bed. In the foreground just one stack of the thorny brush I rooted out--

3) Tame:   Once the tangle  has been rooted out, I’ll rake back the leaves and put down cardboard to smoother any re-sprouts.  Stand by to spray, or root out shoots with my trusty pick-axe (aka Maddock).  But I’m also standing by to plant with new trees and shrubs this spring.   

New space just waiting for plants–what a luxury!!

I’ll keep you posted on my newest bed.

One day--more flowers like this in my new bed. (Camellia Jan 30, 2011)