Gardens need to be weeded to be beautiful. Plants need to be thinned so that the remaining ones are healthier. Unwelcome plants need to we weeded out.
It was with this kind of thinking that went into a massive Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) that we finished in 2010. It took 5-years to cover the 400-acres of woods at the PGT. Thousands of trees were cut with the goal of making the property more beautiful.
Ironically, the initial impact of this work was to liter the forest floor with dead trees that not only look worse but makes it more difficult to walk. I never knew it would be this messy!
I mistakenly assumed that with controlled burns and natural rotting the dead trees would disappear in a few years. For many trees that might be true but the most common tree that we killed was Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Cedar trees are famous for their resistance to rot. The skeleton of a cut cedar tree can lay in the woods for 50-years without rotting. It turns out that controlled burns don’t get rid of them either.
To reach the goal of a more beautiful woods our two groundskeepers have to cut up, pile and burn each tree. This will take years to finish.
Would I do it again?
Yes! In the end I’m confident that our woods will look better and will be healthier. Since the mission of the PGT is to “inspire people by letting them experience the beauty of nature” it fits with our goals.
But it is a lot more work that I realized!