Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fence Row Clearing - The Final Push

I’m getting near the end of my fence row clearing project.  I’ve moved into an area about 100 feet long that is a tangle of fallen trees, rough ground, Multiflora Rose bushes and Japanese Honeysuckle vines.  As I worked my way to this point, I was hoping that I would discover a way to make this job a little bit easier.  Unfortunately, I was struck by no such brilliance.

The number of rose bushes was not great, but the density of canes was daunting.  Vertical canes rose 25 feet into the trees and 20 foot horizontal canes wove together with neighboring bushes to form an almost solid mass.  The whole arrangement was like one of those ecosystem web diagrams.  Pulling on a single cane caused the whole thicket to respond.  I think I got snagged by rose thorns every time I moved.

There was no way to get the mower in there, so I waded in with Big Loppers and started taking out one bush at a time.  Each extraction was a tug of war with the Japanese Honeysuckle.  After pulling a few bushes free, I would take JR in to cut the honeysuckle down close to the ground.

I take a lot of before and after photos, but those don’t always convey the degree of difficulty experienced in getting from one condition to the other.  I think I was constantly tangled in rose canes the entire time I spent working in this one small area.  If I’d lost any more blood to rose scratches, it probably would have been necessary to stop for a transfusion.

Several pounds of mulched honeysuckle vines were left on the ground.  In order to have a chance at eliminating the Japanese Honeysuckle, I’ve got to get it out of the trees and on to the ground.  By spraying glyphosate herbicide in late fall when just about everything except the honeysuckle is dormant, I’ve been able to completely eliminate Japanese Honeysuckle and leave the native plants.  So far, I’ve only done this on small plots.  In the next year or so I’ll begin to try it out on larger areas.

In a few places, I cut the honeysuckle off at the ground, but couldn’t get the vines to come out of the tree.  After the vines dry, they’ll more easily come loose.  If I can’t get them down in the next couple of weeks, I’ll cut them off as high as I can reach. That way I’ll be able to see any invasives growing up around the base of the trees when I go out to spray sprouts this spring.

This fence row segment now opens into last year’s Multiflora Rose control area.  I think I’m going to be happy with the results of this project.

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