The Q&A Archives: Clearing Land Of Scrub

Question: My husband and I recently bought a house that is practically surrounded by trees. Most of the lawn is parklike with huge old trees under which we have ripped out the weeds and few tree saplings and planted Scotts shady grass mix, and it seems to be doing well. The problem is that certain parts of the lawn that have received more light on the edge of the woods are so neglected that there is a very dence growth of tree saplings that are about 3 to 5 feet high. This area is a strip of about 4,000 square feet. I would like to get rid of this so there is a discrete line that seperates my lawn from the woods. I clipped alot of it out but the roots have generated more growth. Should I try to burn it? Should I roto-till it? Is there a chemical I should use? I am afraid I'll need to hire someone with a back-hoe or something to get it out.

Answer: If you look carefully, there are never precise changes in habitat or vegetation in nature because different plants have different requirements in terms of growing conditions. What you are seeing is a naturally occurring buffer, often used by wildlife as cover, and part of nature's way of easing the transition at the edge of a wooded area. If you are determined to make an abrupt line, you will need to eradicate the seedling trees and shrubs. Repeated cutting at ground level will eventually work for most of them, but you may also find that carefully timed applications of an herbicide containing glyphosate are helpful. Be sure to use a concentration for brush and follow the label instructions carefully. Keep in mind too that this is a contact herbicide and will kill desirable plants if it contacts them by accident. Regular mowing of the lawn edge should them help to keep the encroachment at bay, although it tends to be an ongoing battle.

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