I have a brush pile problem. Due to the logging that occurred. I have at least 14 brush piles of various size, 4 to 10 feet tall, scattered about the place. And spread throughout the wooded areas are probably 4 or 5 more piles worth of branches that just got left behind. I am not against logging because it is necessary. But wow does it leave a mess behind. I have been madly researching ways to deal with this large amount of debris and aside from spending hundreds of hours pushing it through a wood chipper, the answers aren't really there. I don't have a way of flinging green yard waste up 10 feet in the air in an attempt to make them massive compost piles. And I don't really like the idea of renting or buying a woodchipper, let alone the thought of that many hours with that level of noise thrumming in my ears. Also they have been there for awhile and they were made with large machinery so there are dirt and rocks spread throughout which makes me worry about breaking the machine... So.
What are my options.
Turn it into a fence!
We made a lovely fence this summer out of some of the branches. But it took a good 15 hours to make 40 ish feet of fence that is only 4 feet tall and it took a bunch of screws... and the branches are very dry so I am concerned about its longevity.
Leaving them as they are to breakdown as they wish over the next 10 to 15 years:
This is an option. And I think a couple of them will end up doing exactly this. I don't mind letting nature do its thing and they will turn into lovely deep mulch over the years. But I have plans. And brush piles scattered everywhere are not exactly part of my plans. And. I get the feeling in the center of most of the brush piles lies a huge stump. I suspect this because I can see inside some of the piles and there is indeed a stump! Which makes sense. If I was going to murder a tree with a trunk 4 feet across, I would probably also want to bury the evidence under an extremely inconvenient and messy pile. Funny side note on this, a guy came out to have a look at these piles and told me how Californians buy property in WA and log all the trees and then sell them. And while of course I am sure this has happened... it just doesn't make much sense... because the cost of living in CA is so high that no one has time to look for random 4 acre properties with old growth timber to harvest. And yeah, I am sure whoever logged it got several tens of thousands of dollars. But by the time you paid the title company and insurance and realtors to buy the place, then paid someone to survey it, and found a logging company, and paid the loggers to cut the roads in, cut the trees down, and pull the trees out... I don't know if anyone who had enough money to do that from the distance of CA would find the money worth it. So the statement made me laugh (not out loud, don't worry) because it made me wonder if "Californian" is sort of another word for boogeyman. That nameless, faceless person who is DEFINITELY messing everything up. I remember in CO blaming bad traffic on Californians who didn't know how to drive. Then I moved to LA and learned that most people who live there aren't from there and that although I wouldn't call them "good" drivers... it is amazing how many accidents don't happen. Considering there are like 11 million people there. Back to the point of stumps. I love stumps, especially huge ones. So I would prefer they stick around. So surrounding them with decaying material is not in my best interest.
Build one Pile to rule them all:
This is actually a bit tempting to me. We have couple areas where trees fell over taking huge rootballs with them, and leaving pits at least 15 feet across and 3 or 4 feet deep. So why not just throw every last branch and bristle into these pits?! With the added bonus that these pits are at the lower edge of the property and huge piles would help to hide the neighbors house from our sight!
This one is also really tempting and I will probably do some of this as well. I have learned in my researching that little critters love brush piles for their safety and relative warmth. Insects are disappearing, our small birds got salmonella and died by the thousands this year... why not create refuges for them and give them a fighting chance? I really hate the look of dead hedges but I am thinking if I grew vines (a mixture of grapes and flowering vines, maybe I could dress them up a bit. I figure the vines would keep them from drying out as much in the summer which would also aid in them deteriorating faster!
Using them to suppress growth of the salmon berry and nettles:
This is sort of an extension of dead hedges... We have a couple places where there are some pretty thick patches of salmon berry and nettles. Salmom berry is native and yummy (or so the internet claims) but oh. my. goodness. The thorns on it are intense. And it spreads through roots that are no joke. And did I mention the thorns? And nettles... I have heard them make delicious greens... but they seriously sting! As in, you are walking merrily along hearing the birdies singing and all of a sudden your hand is stinging and it is going to keep stinging for the next 2 or 3 hours. So my very clever (I will let you know later if it did turn out to be clever!) Thought is... I crush the living life out of these plants with a vicious onslaught of branches piled 6 feet deep and 6 feet high. Grow it all over with vines and hopefully kill them all with lack of sun.
Right now we are in sort of a holding pattern... the weather is cold and wet and snowy. I just got a delivery of 9 trees and a grape vine. So we need to dig holes tomorrow and get them planted. I also want to wait until later winter/early spring lest I disturb tiny creatures who are surviving the winter curled up snugly in a brush pile. Also, I need to decide what to do! Don't worry. I am sure I will post up pics and write something very long an tedious about how it goes!