Woods Cleanup

Discussion in 'Other DIY' started by hollowgirl, Feb 16, 2017.

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  1. hollowgirl

    hollowgirl Administrator Gold Supporter
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    I recently purchased some woods that have been unmaintained for a minimum of 3 years. There are hundreds of fallen trees and a great deal of undergrowth. I don't really have the money to pay a crew to come clean it up nor do I really want to. Any advice I where I should start? Any safety advice for me? (I'm sort of a clutz but I have cat-like reflexes. lol) Any ideas on uses for the lumber? My husband and I have tossed around the idea of getting a wood furnace. One concern I have is once we have cleaned up all of the downed trees, will we be able to gather enough wood from the land to continue using the furnace without being forced to thin the woods each year?
     
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  2. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    First thing to do if you are going to live there is make sure you have a decent firebreak all round your dwelling. If your land has slopes/hills, DO NOT remove fallen timber on these slopes. The fallen timber acts as a barrier to running water & will guard against erosion.
    Some timbers can be coppiced, that is you can cut live trees down & they will re shoot from the stump. The tree you cut down can be cut into logs for the fire/stove, stacked & left to dry. Depending on how much of your woods you coppice, it can give you a life time of firewood.
    I_WFtjIYQXgEp6pPm1XfsViBtil0_KJ4.png
    Can you see all the stumps & the new growth? This is only a small coppice that I keep for poles for use in the gardens & making tool handles etc. Also as you can see I used these poles for wigwam frame. We do not need to coppice for firewood because our forest is large enough to support our needs, even though we use firewood all year round for cooking & heating the water & for heating the house in winter. If you start coppicing now, your coppice should be ready by the time you have used up all your firewood. Trees will continue to die or break or fall in strong winds so your coppice will probably not be your only source of firewood. If your woodland is very small, you could always consider growing some Australian species of eucalypti. These trees are fast growing & good for coppicing.
    I hope this helps, if you think that I could help with further information, let me know.
    Regards, Keith.
     
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  3. LilSoldierGirl

    LilSoldierGirl Expert Member
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    You could google hugelkultur for ideas on how to use that brush. Turn it into garden beds.
     
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  4. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    You'll never be able to clear all of that out. Chainsaw the dry stuff. Get the wood stove or furnace. Much of the forest floor fallen stuff will have gone to rot. Begin clearing at the perimeter of your house & lawn and work your way out further and further. Again, you'll never get it all cleared, never.

    And watch it when working with or around chainsaws! I always have a gun on me; dangerous as it could be, still it is a part of my brain's body image -- it is me. Using a chainsaw however is something that triggers a hyper-awareness in me. When using one, I give thought to my every move. Knew a guy who took a bar to the face = NASTY scar. Knew of a guy who sawed almost completely through his quadriceps. NEVER, stand in brush while using one. Always have an escape path away from the tree you are cutting. When a tree is already down, you gotta be able to see in your mind's eye the force and stress vectors applying to what you think you want to cut. Ask yourself, "What part of this downed tree is bearing all of this tonnage?!" And we ARE talking tons-worth of weight, even if it has dried out. If in doubt, leave it, don't start cutting -- you can easily bind the nose of your saw, or God forbid, throw hundreds of pounds of tree trunk/limb into yourself. A dead tree really doesn't understand or care that it has just snapped your knee in the wrong direction. It wasn't a tree that did it, but I've heard a leg bone of mine snap -- gives you a sickening feeling ... along with the pain of course.

    Do what Keith H. said to do, create a big fire break around your house. That is BIG-TIME important. Talk to the forestry people in your area. You may very well be able to get one of them to come out and look at your situation. Don't let them bankrupt you with suggestions, however. You can do what you can do. When you build your chimney, make sure the top is capped-off with a screen around the cap for the smoke's exit. You really do not want to send flying embers into your forest!

    http://www.sondrini.com/uploads/9/5/0/7/9507133/9101047_orig.jpg

    http://www.backwoodshome.com/help-your-home-survive-in-the-path-of-a-wildfire/

    https://www.fs.fed.us/nwacfire/home/terminology.html

    http://www.firewise.org/wildfire-pr...ome-and-landscape/defensible-space.aspx?sso=0

    https://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/references/public/CO/CO383_Spec.pdf

    For several days, my youngest son had to breath the smoke from this mess:
    https://community.nfpa.org/communit...fires-cause-firefighter-and-civilian-injuries
     
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  5. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I must admit I was not thinking of you being a beginner with a chainsaw, if you are, then listen to the Old Geezer! Fallen trees can fall against & between other standing trees, sometimes causing a strain on the fallen tree. If you cut in the wrong place, or cut from the wrong side, you can get seriously hurt if not killed. Be careful dropping standing dead trees, make sure you use the correct cut to stop the tree sliding backwards. Always move to the side, not behind a falling tree. Keep your eye on the tree, sometimes they will twist & go in a different direction. Some trees that are rotten inside may either collapse when you are cutting, or they will start to fall quicker than you expected! Carry wedges with you in case the saw becomes trapped. Also if you get a perfectly balanced tree that won't fall, you can use wedges to make it fall.
    Always watch your partner, don't let them walk into the area where the tree is likely to fall. Never cut alone! Always have someone with you & have a good first aid kit on hand.
    Keith.
     
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  6. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    From Keith H. : "Fallen trees can fall against & between other standing trees, sometimes causing a strain on the fallen tree."

    Bingo!

    When a tree gets "caught up", you now have a situation. Do not rush in to cut it again. Give yourself time to think. Give the tree time to decide to fall or not.

    When figuring on where a tree will fall, I cheat. I run lines of 3/4" to 1" Manila rope up into the tree over 15' from the base. I then use come-alongs (crank pulleys w/steel cable) to put some serious force on the tree in the direction I want it to fall. What I'm doing here is profoundly dangerous and can get you killed, thus I can't recommend the practice. Putting this force on a tree can raise the possibility of kick-back at the base. I have also been known to cut the tree then go out and increase the force on these ropes. I have hung on the ropes. The latter can REALLY get you killed -- what if the tree comes down way to fast?! What if the steel cable breaks?! Steel cable unwraps at violent speed and the strands spinning out from the explosion will lay your body wide open. I'm crippled now (trees didn't do it), so I doubt I'll ever be cutting large trees ever again. Can't run away!

    When using steel cables, I wrap the cables with heavy rope in case of a cable explosion. The rope helps keep the steel from flipping out of there.

    Trees "kick back". The tree starts to fall, tears loose from the stump, and the cut base now kicks back in the opposite direction (or to the side) of where the rest of the tree is falling. When the tree kicks back, the better part of the entire weight of the tree is now sent towards its cut base. This much force can do whatever it wants to anything in its way. It can lever up the side of a truck and tip it. This is unimaginable force. Now imagine that you have climbed up into a tree to cut it high ... now it kicks back towards you and here you are tied off to the tree. This is how people get killed felling trees. You are an insect and the tree is the boot of God.
     
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  7. hollowgirl

    hollowgirl Administrator Gold Supporter
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    I went for a hike yesterday to take a picture of the area I want to clean up but never got around to posting them because it was such a beautiful day. :)

    The information you guys (@Keith H. and @Old Geezer) have been providing above is fantastic!! I am very new to all of this! I've had a few freak accidents in my past so I am a little more cautious than most with just about everything, part of the reason I have been putting off the clean-up. Chainsaws kind of scare me, but this wood isn't just going to disappear on its own (very quickly anyway). I'm not afraid of hard work or getting dirty, but I would prefer to keep myself it one piece. :D My husband has been showing me how to use a chainsaw a bit, but I would much rather just let him run it. However, I feel it is important for me to learn because he may not always be there or able to run it.

    Here is a picture of one place that needs to be cleaned up.

    @Keith H. you said not to clear wood from slopes, but most of my land is slopes. Should I leave some of trees behind to prevent erosion? With so much dead trees around, I feel like my land is just waiting to burst into flames. This area also leads down to a pond and I am sure the wildlife does not enjoy trying to get through all of this. I feel like a bit of clean up would make it more appealing for the wildlife to hang out down here.

    There is a pretty good firebreak around my house. I may need to do a little work on the back side of the house, though. Honestly, there is so much work to be done around here, I am just trying to prioritize. I plan to clean up all that is fallen before taking down the dead trees that are still standing, so it may be a little while before I get to that.

    Because of the amount of much fallen wood we have, we have even considered getting a wood chipper and covering some trails in mulch. @LilSoldierGirl I just recently heard about hugelkulturs. They are so cool! I think I am going to give one a try soon!
     
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  8. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I would avoid removing downed trees that lie across the slope, but if it were close to the house & a fire risk then by all means move it. All that other large litter can be moved, you can clear around these fallen trees.
    Talking of slopes, just another caution. Trees will usually fall down hill, but the odd one will not, especially if it is growing straight up with no apparent lean one way or the other. Other factors that make a difference are bigger branches or more branches on one side of the tree. The tree will have more weight on that side so tend to fall in that direction. Before I cut a tree down I place my chest against the trunk & look up, in this way I can usually tell which way it is leaning. I can usually predict the exact spot where that tree will fall taking into account the previous measures & making the cut in the right place. Your husband probably knows all this, but always good to make sure. The initial cut goes into the tree straight on the side the tree is expected to fall. The second cut is on the same side but a little higher & angled down to intersect the first cut so cutting out a wedge.
    The third & last cut is from the back of the tree on the opposite side to the first cuts. This cut is started high above the other cuts & angled down to intercept the wedge cut. This produces a "back-stop" to help stop the tree kicking back as Old Geezer mentioned earlier.

    Those fallen trees lying across the slope of the land act like a dam wall in heavy rains. The water flowing down hill washes leaf litter & sticks down hill but is stopped by the fallen trees. After a while the ground level is actually raised on the uphill side of these fallen trees.
    Keith.
     
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  9. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    "hollowgirl, post: 16097, member: 2229"]I went for a hike yesterday to take a picture of the area I want to clean up but never got around to posting them because it was such a beautiful day. :)

    Holy guacamole! I looked at that photo and wondered what in the world I'd try to do. Cut firewood, yes. But the "trees" that are growing on that bank are for the most part itty-bitty. To get enough light in there to promote growth, several perfectly good tiny trees are going to have to come down. And there's sooooooooo much dead stuff on the ground!!! Maybe you do need a wood-chipper!

    You need to talk to somebody who has worked forestry for time. Me, I don't know what to tell you. I'd cry if I had to clean up that bank in the photo and I take it that that is but a tip of the iceberg. Oh my.

    Let your husband work this. Warn him about all those limbs. He's gotta clear spaces to do the cutting -- no one should stand in amongst those limbs and then kick on a chain saw. Somebody is going to trip and nuke him or her self with the saw. Danger Will Robinson!

    Using those wood-chips: I've not found anything positive as far as fuel use. Wouldn't it be great if you could!
    http://www.woodstovewizard.com/woodchips.html

    http://www.sredmond.com/vthr_index.htm

    The following is going a bit too far:
    http://bioburner.com/product/bb-500/
    Not very practical, I'm thinking.

    Here are some big systems:

    http://evoworldusa.com/

    https://thegreenlever.blogspot.com/2014/03/heat-from-hedges-wood-chip-boiler.html

    http://www.explainthatstuff.com/how-biomass-boilers-work.html

    Thing is, one needs a source of fuel to burn wet / low-grade wood chips. Thus, it's mainly farms and industry that use this type of heat.
     
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  10. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Cutting trees on sloping ground is also not a good idea, once again it will increase soil erosion. Personally if the area is not a fire risk to your dwelling, & would leave it alone. Our forest is just the same, except that our trees are far more inflammable than your deciduous trees. We clear the ground within the firebreak, but don't touch the ground beyond that.
    Keith.
     
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