Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Backyard Woods - Making a plan

Compare your objectives and inventory, and make adjustments if needed. For example, the objectives of a landowner and his family were to keep the property natural, watch wildlife, and enjoy the view from their home. After they talked with their neighbors, attended a university extension service workshop on living on a few acres, and surveyed their property, they changed their goals.
After you inventory your backyard woods you can draw your own map on graph paper. Use your inventory to plan activities that will accomplish your objectives. The order and year in which you list the activities will depend on your objectives, time, and money. Don’t try to do everything at once. Think long term and develop a 10-year plan. Your plan is flexible. Review it periodically to be sure it still meets your objectives and that you have the time and money to implement it.

Can I get help with my plan?
A county soil survey contains the soil map along with information on soil use and management for trees, wildlife, and trail building. You can obtain a soil survey from the District. Average annual precipitation amounts and plant hardiness zone maps are also available.
You will need information on what to do and how to do it. Personal education is available. Soil and Water Conservation District and Cooperative Extension Service offices are good sources of local information.

There are opportunities to get personalized assistance. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry has a Service Forester who is a wealth of information in planning your woodland. You may be able to hire a consulting forester, landscape architect, or arborist on an hourly basis to do a short "walk through" with you to give you ideas on what you might do to reach your objectives. Try to find someone who can tell you about the soil, historical land use, the health and economic value of your trees, the resident wildlife, and what the woods will look like in 20 years if you leave it alone or if you choose to apply practices to improve it. Consider talking with your neighbors about having a natural resource professional look over all of your properties.

If you don’t have the equipment, time, or skill for a project, seek local sources of help. The farm and garden supply store, weekly swap and sell guide, and local newspaper contain information on locally available services.
Whatever you do, have fun doing it. Include your family, and your neighbors if possible. A large task can be made easier with partners.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Schedule

The district office will close Friday, December 23rd at noon. We will be closed on Monday, December 26th.
We will be open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
We will close on Friday, December 30th at noon. We will be closed on Monday, January 2nd.
We will resume our normal schedule on Tuesday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Your Backyard Woods - Taking an inventory

What do I have on my property?
The trees you have or can grow on your property are determined by climate, soils and the previous landowner’s activities. You may not be able to develop specific objectives and activities to reach your objectives until you know more about your property.
Temperature and precipitation are the main climate factors affecting the types of trees and their growth on your property. Each type of tree has a minimum and maximum temperature that limits its growth, and an optimum temperature for growth. Trees need at least 15 inches of annual precipitation to grow, but they can use much more.

Depth and texture are soil factors that control the amount of moisture and nutrients available to trees and other plants. Deep soils are generally better than shallow soils because they have the potential for greater nutrient supply and water-holding capacity.
Soil texture refers to the size and shape of the sand, silt, and clay particles in your soil. Sand particles are relatively large and irregularly shaped. Silt particles are very small sand particles. Clay particles are extremely small and flat. Soils are named based on the percentage of sand, silt, and clay they contain. Loam is the name for soils with various mixtures of sand, silt, and clay particles. Sandy soils have large spaces between the particles enabling water to move through it quickly, so less water and nutrients are available to plants. Clay soils hold a large amount of water and nutrients but the spaces between particles are so small that roots have a difficult time reaching it. Silt soils are similar to clay soils. Loams are the most productive soils because they have the best qualities of sand and clay without their undesirable characteristics.
Talk with your neighbors and visit the SWCD District to find out the previous uses of your property.

Climate, soils, and previous uses are beyond your control. The best way to work within these conditions is to maintain and plant native trees and plants. They have adapted to the climate and soils in your backyard woods, and need the least amount of your time and work for them to grow.
Refining your objectives and activities requires you to find out what is on your property. Walking your property and sketching a map is a good way to inventory your woods. A topographical map would make a good place to start your sketch. These can be found online, or you may get one from the District.

As you walk through your property sketch tree-covered areas, treeless areas, unique features like rock outcrops, streams, ponds, swamps, wet spots, stone fences, and colorful foliage, roads, trails, house, other structures, and yard. Be sure to walk your boundary lines, and if they are not evident, locate them and mark them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Your Backyard Woods - How do I get started?

The first step requires a pencil and paper, and some time to think. You may want to sit down with your family and talk about your backyard woods.
Answers to questions such as these will help you to develop a vision for your backyard woods:
• Why do we have this land?
• What do we like about it?
• What words describe the feelings we have for this land?
• What do we want it to produce?
• What do we want it to look like in 5, 10, and 20 years from now?

What are my objectives for my woods?
The most common objectives for backyard woods are to improve wildlife habitat, aesthetics, and recreation. Other objectives include tree value and special forest products. You can have more than one objective. Maintaining a healthy woods and a safe environment should always be included among your objectives.
To reach your vision for your backyard woods, develop specific objectives that will help you identify the actions you need to take. Here are a couple of examples:
• It is not enough to say you want more wildlife. You need to decide which animals are most desirable, and whether improved bird watching, hunting, or just a greater variety of animals is your objective.
• Perhaps natural beauty is what you want. Your objectives may be to improve the view from your house or possibly to add some color or different shapes to your backyard woods by planting a variety of trees.
With backyard woods management, achieving several objectives at once is usually easy. For example, when you are cutting firewood, which of these would you say you are doing: producing fuel, providing space for your favorite trees to grow, making brush piles for rabbits, or enjoying yourself? Many backyard woods owners would answer, "All of these!"
Talk with your neighbors and ask them about their plans for their woods. Working together on similar objectives can make the task easier and greatly increase the impact on wildlife and other values you share.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Make a Master Plan In Your Backyard Woods

Why should I plan?

Your backyard woods is like a garden that needs to be tended to get the best results. By weeding, adding new trees and shrubs, managing insects and diseases, and harvesting products, you’ll help nature create the backyard woods that meets your needs and wants.
Even if you are contented with your backyard woods today, it will change over time. As trees and the associated plants sprout, grow, and die, other plants and wildlife will replace some of the trees and wildlife you currently enjoy. Brush will fill in the trails. Trees will invade your favorite berry-picking spots or obscure your favorite view. Your trees may become overcrowded, lose their vigor, and become susceptible to insects and diseases.
Caring for your backyard woods can take a lot of time and money. A master plan will help you focus on what is important to you and your family. It will help you organize the work so that it is manageable and fits your budget and available time.