How to Live in the Woods

Our garden-in-progress at the old house....I miss it!

When we moved onto this property in 2006, I was ambivalent. We were leaving a subdivision property where I’d worked for five years to build a perennial garden with paths and seating areas, replacing big sections of the lawn with garden beds. In terms of perennial gardening, I was just getting started. Then when the neighbors built a gigantic addition on their house with windows overlooking our yard, we felt we’d lost any sense of privacy we’d been able to retain in such a crowded neighborhood. Soon I found myself perusing the houses for sale online, searching for our lost privacy.

When we found this house on a 2-acre wooded lot only a mile away, we jumped on it. It saddened me to leave behind the garden I’d worked so hard on (not to mention our brand new screened porch), but we both valued the woods and privacy more, so we loaded up our things and moved.

See how the woods are right up against the deck?

That first summer we quickly realized that we had to determine some boundaries: Where would the woods end and the groomed part of the yard begin? That might seem like a simple and clear-cut issue, but it isn’t. As you can see from the pictures here, the woods are just watching for their chance to reclaim the entire lot, house and all. So we have to draw the line somewhere. So, from time to time, we go into the nearest woods and pull out fallen branches and deadwood just to tidy up the parts we can see from the house. But we know that the birds and other animals benefit from some of those piles of deadwood and tangles of vines, so we don’t want to remove all of them. Plus, that’s a lot of work! The path back to the shed and compost bin is getting less-defined each year, but that’s fine too. We take out some dead trees but leave others for the birds.

The path to the shed and compost bin. There is a path there. Really.

And beyond the shed…well, we’ve never even been all the way to the back of our property. Can you believe that? It’s only 2 acres, but it’s pretty overgrown back there. I started to go back there one day a few years ago, but when dogs began barking on the other side of the woods, I hightailed it back to the house. Big dogs scare me unless I know them, and these sounded BIG. But I did get far enough back to see that there’s a big ravine at the far end, and then another house past that. And to be honest, it feeds my fantasy of living “in the forest” if I can’t see the end of our yard. So I may never go all the way back there.

Luckily, neither of us are fans of the chemically-treated, water-intensive lawns that most suburbanites seem to prefer. We’re fine with crabgrass and less-than-bright-green grass on the small lawn we’ve got. But now we’ve got moss taking over the lawn and are again at a decision point: Do we let the moss continue expanding its territory at the expense of the grass, or do we continue to force our will on the lawn so it doesn’t look like we’re just lazy homeowners? As of right now we’re not doing anything about the moss. And I don’t really notice it except when I’m mowing. Hmm, I think we’ll just leave it alone for now. Besides, I’m trying not to concern myself with what others think of my choices anyway. Part of being a grown up and trusting myself….I like it.

This entry was posted in Flowers and Gardening, Living in the Woods and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to Live in the Woods

  1. David Riewe says:

    I can see why you miss the old garden, but it looks like you are on a great start with the new place and will enjoy it more in the long run. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us.

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