[permaculture] [Fwd: Re: Clearing Land]

FranksFarm at aol.com FranksFarm at aol.com
Thu Jan 30 07:34:55 EST 2003

Good day,

Interesting topic for me too.

I've also been hoping to "open up" some fairly flat land at the base of my 
hills for a variety of uses.

Most of the trees are mixed hardwoods but I also have an area where there 
were some tall Virginia pines that have been attacked by the pine beetle 
within the last year. Damage is very swift...so trees are dying quickly. I 
will try and salvage those that have not been damaged, but I fear this might 
be an unrealistic expectation.

I'm trying to use this area for a combination of extra pasture under trees 
that are suitable for timber.

This area has decent soils and had been over run by Rosa rugs and wild 
grapevines, which as they age can really bend, and even kill several trees.

Area also seems to be prone to wind damage since I will often see the tops of 
fairly tall, straight poplars etc. broken off.

I had been hoping that by running cattle through area I would actually 
improve soil conditions. I want to have grassy areas under the trees, and 
want to have a parklike look.

I had read about a fellow that has grass under his walnut orchard that was on 
60' spacings.

I'm trying to figure out how best to PLAN to take out trees for such 
development, and would appreciate comments on spacing, management, debris 
removal, etc.

Here's my intentions that can now be modified fairly easily.

1) First take down all diseased, dead, or dying trees, or trees that hinder 
growth of more desirable species that have been marked as culls by KY 
Forestry dept.

2) Take out as much of the wild rose briars I can to make walking, working 

3) Open up the area by taking down less desirable species to get more light 
to forest floor.

4) There is considerable dead wood litter throughout area, which makes 
getting around more difficult. Most of the time wood is too well rotted to be 
useful as firewood. I also see lots of fungi, and mushrooms growing, but am 
weak at ID'ing them. I've been trying to figure out how to best handle all 
the trees that need cutting, delimbing etc. Area is over 20 acres! So far I 
have been doing some of this work by chain saw, but there are literally 
hundreds of trees that will not amount to much as timber that could be taken 
down. But then that does leave stumps to deal with.

Most of the trees for whatever reason are very shallow rooted. Since this 
area was formerly in pasture much of the growth probably took place in last 
20 years or so.
So, I've been thinking a bulldozer might be able to push 'em over fairly 

However this is costly. Dozer time is around $70 an hour. Plus it will really 
tear up the ground, and mess up the top soil.

I've seen some sort of tree "shears" that are designed to take down trees 
less than 20", but don't know anything about use, cost, best brands etc. And 
I don't know whether it's feasible given limited budgets, my lack of skills. 
Whatever I use I'd like to be reasonably safe!

5) I need to find a way to set up alley ways, or tree spacing that will allow 
some machinery passage for seeding, clipping, tree removal. To compound matte
rs this area can be fairly wet after heavy rains.

6) I'm told that managing the area in this way is not the best for the trees, 
whose roots are often fairly close to the surface  and spread to size of 
canopy. Most canopies are fairly compact though. Yet USDA urges farmers to 
consider alley cropping, and has some research to prove that there are 
complimentary benefits to cattle grazing, and timber management. I guess the 
biggest negative I've heard is that when trees are so selected and have 
abundant sunlight that this promotes branching which lessens value of the 

7) I'm often humbled by the sheer amount of labor it takes to do this kind of 
work on several acres. Plus there are only certain times such work can be 
done, or fitted into the never ending work schedule on the farm. 

I'd appreciate your comments. The more details the better! I've been a long 
time enthusiast, and have read quite a bit. I'm learning that many of the 
concepts that I had gleaned from these readings are challenged now by folks w
ith similar leanings who have modified such as they gained experience. Makes 
it real hard on an ex-city boy:)

Look forward to your replies.  All the best. Frank in southern KY. 

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