Friday, October 9, 2009

Last Trail Mowing

I have some trails through the woods and prairies that get mowed once a year. I try to mow just before the leaves fall. That way I get a nice covering of leaves on the trail to help protect against erosion and soil compaction. This year I had to stop mowing occasionally to clean up limbs that are still falling as a result of last winter’s ice storm.

DR Brush waits patiently while I get the debris cleared out of the way. I’ve had this mower for 16 years and it has way surpassed what the advertisements claimed it would do. It had a minor complication this summer, but has now completely recovered from wheel replacement surgery. The wheels should have been replaced a couple of years ago, but the Blue Jay Barrens maintenance department likes to wait until things are completely unusable before doing repairs.

The grass growing here is called Diarrhena americana. Sometimes this grass forms dense stands in the woods. It makes it easy to see where the trail is going.

Where vegetation is sparse, it’s sometimes hard to tell where the trail is supposed to go. Even so, anyone with minimal observation skills should be able detect the subtle signs of a mowed path.

I have a lot of steep slopes to deal with. A trail cutting across a steep slope isn’t too much of a problem during the summer. When snow covers frozen ground, a trail like this can cause some painful sideways slips and falls. I try to avoid putting trails in situations like this, but sometimes this is the only way to get from one point to another.

Mowing this time of year doesn’t seem to cause any problems for the prairie plants. The track that you see here has been maintained through the summer by the deer. In the few places not used by deer, the grass completely hides the trail.

The same stretch of trail after being mowed. One purpose of these trails is to confine foot traffic along the same route to preserve the aesthetics of the area you are viewing while you walk. I’ve found that one mower width through the woods and prairies is plenty for someone to walk down.

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