Reclaiming The Woods.

The woods in front of my house looked like Tarzan’s playground.

That had to change.

So I recently started tackling a project that I’ve wanted to do since I bought my house in St. Albans two and a  half years ago.

The strip of woods between my house and the road is overgrown with a dense, old thicket of wild grapevine that reaches to the treetops. It’s plain ugly. I’ve cleared grapevine for other people, and it’s a chore.  But my grapevine is in a league all its own.

It’s probably been growing there for 20 years. Thick vines reach 30 feet into the treetops. the worst I’ve seen.You can see by the picture what a tangle it all is. I took the picture right before I began hacking away.

My grapevine thicket is choking the trees. Some of the trees are scrub elm and boxwood, both of which are half dead, no doubt strangled by the grapevine.

The forest floor is littered with broken, dead branches and the leaning remnants of saplings that didn’t make it.

Before I began the cleaning job, a chore that’s not done yet, the woods looks like the aftermath of a Catagory 5 tornado, without the charm.  Grapevine would work great in a horror movie. It grows fast, chokes everything to death, and you Just. Can’t. Kill. It.

People hire me fairly often to clear grapevine because it takes over so fast and gets ahead of people.   It is satisfying to get rid of it, because it looks so much better afterwards.

When grapevine does get out of hand, as it did on my property, the cure is brute strength. I cut the main stems of the grapevine near the ground, then tug on the bottom of the cut stem to yank it out of the trees.

I pull the grapevine out of the trees at an angle, instead of standing right under it.  That way, I don’t create a slapstick mess of stuff falling on me. I don’t want to look  like Wyle E. Coyote having the ACME anvil fall on him.

I’m really strong, so after some vigorous tugs, I’m usually able to disentangle the grapevine from the treetops. Sometimes the effort breaks some tree branches, but that’s OK. Things still look a lot better after I get rid of the grapevine.

Some of the grapevine on my property my  is so thick, so entrenched, that I can’t pull it out of the trees. So I cut the vines at their base. Now they are loose, and I can swing through the trees like Tarzan.  

ARRRROOORRRR, or whatever Tarzan yells.

Eventually, the remaining grapevine that I can’t currently pull from the trees will begin to decay and I can get rid of it then. No one will see it this summer when the trees leaf out.

Early spring is a good time  to clear grapevine. If you do it after they leaf out, you end up with big clots of grapevine up in the trees, with lots of unsightly dead leaves that last the rest of the summer. You end up with a yard that looks like it belongs to the Munsters.

My goal is a woodsy strip on my property that’s generally natural looking, but doesn’t look like Haiti after the earthquake.   Some young sugar maples and white ash are attempting to grow where the grapevine dominated. Without the grapevine, the maples and ash will grow into handsome proud forest trees.

Then I’ll have a healthy, beautiful woods to enjoy.

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