The First Winter: Clearing Weeds and Planting Trees
In October 2020, we got our new house. Built 2013, it’s not only new to us, and this is a major upside. While I definitely can appreciate many aspects of old houses, the comfort of a modern house fits us first-time parents very well.
The site is pretty large for a regular house, at about 10 500 m². Eight years ago when the house was built, all the existing old trees were cut down. The weeds took over, as they often seem to do after deforestation if nothing else is planted. The two dominant species were blackberries (I’m not sure which kind) and “Cytisus scoparius.” Birch trees also managed to cover some ground.
It didn’t take long before we made other plans for this place. Specifically, I decided to try restoring the forest, in a way that makes sense in this area. That means a majority of oak and beech, some sections of birch, and a sprinkle of cherry, pine, and spruce.
Of course, I’ll be long gone before the grand result of this project. Future generations can hopefully bask in the glory of its success. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy watching these trees grow up.
Please note that I’m a clumsy hobbyist. I do get solid advice from my sister who is a trained gardener, and from various other sources, but you shouldn’t trust anything I say or do.
Autumn Colors, All Around
When we arrived, nature was showing its autumn palette of yellow, red, and brown. The following photos are from walks in the area surrounding our house.
Time To Work
Alright, enough about the surrounding nature. Around mid November I started executing on our plan. At first, I had no power tools or protective gear. I think that lasted about a day, after which I came in covered in scars.
The blackberries were everywhere. I mean it. They often grew up to a height of two meters by growing inside and across the Cytisus scoparius branches, creating what I can only describe as a jungle of barbed wire.
These two have become my mortal enemies, the main targets of this operation. Blackberries, while tasty, is a weed that is notoriusly hard to get rid of. Cytisus scoparius is classified as invasive in some countries, though not in Sweden.
I cleared out a small portion, including some promising oaklings. While scarred, my motivation was now on top. I ordered a clearing saw and a full set of protective gear.
While waiting for the delivery, I collected acorns down by the road and planted them in old planting boxes. Finally, I covered them in thick layer of oak leaves, which sadly didn’t stop birds from the enjoying the smörgåsbord. We’ll soon see how many of the 200-300 acorns that make it. My hopes are low on this one.
When the saw arrived, I did a first pass on the area closest to the house. It took a while until I found a good technique and which blade to use.
I soon realized that a more efficient workflow would be to do it in two separate phases:
- Get rid of as much blackberry as possible
- Cut down all Cytisus scoparius and other excess trees
And so it went.
Finally, the north side of the road was cleared. There remains a bunch of birch trees to be cut, but that can wait a bit.
At this point, I had some space to work with. There’s a road construction planned at the corner of our lot, right through a little pond of self-seeded oaklings. Instead of them getting covered by gravel, I decided to move them to the newly cleared grounds. The first batch was around 25-30 trees, I think.
The Other Side
Awkwardly, the south side of the road remained uncleared. There, the Cytisus scoparius grew even taller and more dense.
Speaking of the multi-sport court – it’s perhaps not the most attractive part of this place, in my opinion. But I’m guessing our toddler might have different opinions on this matter, and so it could come in handy.
An audiobook and some sweat later, the south side was cleared.
We got help from relatives to pile up the remaining branches. There’s a little bit left to do but the main chunk of work is done.
Planting Oak and Beech
In a handful spots there grew small oak and beech plants that needed moving. Either they grew too densely, below larger trees where they’d only get shade, or in areas that needed to be kept clear (sides of the road, for example.) I started moving them into newly cleared areas to get a nicer spread of trees across the entire area.
I’ve replanted these trees with marker sticks. This makes it easy to spot them. Also, I can support the plants by tying them to the stick, and use them to fix the net cages.
Even with the fierce competition going on after the deforestation, a bunch of oak trees managed to break through. There are some growing 4-5 m tall, already. Unfortunately they’ve grown very close to other plants and got intertwined, so I’ve spent some time pruning.
Pruning trees like these is usually done between July and September, but I wanted to give these a full season of unhindered growth. Hopefully I won’t regret that decision.
Last week, spring was declared in southern Sweden. Finally! I spent the weekend caging in small trees to (hopefully) protect them from wildlife, and to give them a more focused upwards growth. I’ve used cable ties to straighten and support the smaller trees, but I’m not sure if that’s a bad idea. Maybe I need to swap them for some softer rope.
Some of the larger trees had grown a bit sideways due to competition, so I bought heavy piles and used them for support.
And that’s where I am now, eagearly awaiting the warmth of spring and summer, and the blossoming of trees and flowers. We really don’t know what might show up!
If you’ve read this far, I hope you have enjoyed the first part of our journey. If so, let me know, and I might post more pictures and words on this subject. You can also follow me on Twitter, where I nowadays torture my followers with both tech and gardening tweets.