Sometimes when working on a vast project it transcends “you can’t do it all at once” and moves into the territory “it’s hard to know where to get started”. One such project is trying to bring the woods in our house under control. Apparently the previous owner’s yard folks had been trimming the landscaping around the house and throwing the cuttings into the forest, so an entertaining variety of invasive ivy, grapes, something like holly, and other vine-like things were progressively destroying the trees of the forest.
It’s been a process. The yard looked like wilderness once you got past the landscaping and was nearly impassable. But, after we were forced to take out the first of our dying trees (NO, well, full disclosure, a delivery truck took out the FIRST of our trees when it ran into it) when it got consumed by ivy one year and threatened to fall on the driveway, we decided to start the multi-year project of rehabilitating the yard.
We took out that tree, then took out another half-dozen. We hired goats that year to eat the vines down to the ground, then followed up with chainsaws and clippers to sever the roots of the vines climbing the trees. The goats decided they were done with it and didn’t eat any new growth that came back up, so the next year, we hired a guy to bring in a “mulcher” (really, a bobcat with a giant grinder on the front of it) to clear out runways through the landscape, leaving islands of greenery for the deer and other animals.
Then, we started on the paths.
Our idea – and I’m not saying it’s a good or feasible one – is to have paths running through this forest. This would take way, way more money than we want to spend on it – but we’re patient, and have time. So, slowly, step by step, we’ve been taking fallen tree limbs and creating borders for the paths.
Drawing that line is an act of magic – even if it’s just with an old rotten piece of wood thrown onto some leaves. As soon as the line is drawn, you know what’s inside it, and what’s outside it. You know which plants you can leave alone, and which weeds need to be pulled up. And once you’ve done that, you have an even larger area of order, which brings increased clarity, which brings more opportunities for order.
I don’t know if we will ever complete our plan to rehabilitate the forest.
But at least now, there are paths we can walk.