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.

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