Sunday, June 7, 2020

Taming The Cross Timbers Of Texas/The Woods Behind Us.

I thought I'd give you an update on the project in the woods. 

This area of Texas is part of the Cross Timbers region of the United States. It is a band of prairie, savanna, and woodland that stretches through central Texas through Oklahoma and into Kansas. 
It is a transition area between the Pineywoods of East Texas and the West Texas Great Plains and Panhandle. 
 It can be dense woodland which is what is behind my house. 
When we first moved in, Bill got out there and cleared out the green briar that was growing in the trees. This improved our view. 
Bill cleared two pathways so our children could explore and hike to the creek. 
Another neighbor did the same. It was an enjoyable short hike though this undeveloped area. 
At one point I got in there and cut down new growth. 
Green briar has horrible thorns. 

Last Christmas I tried to get to a small cedar tree to clip some greens to bring into the house. The tree was dead. It looked to be choked by this horrible devil vine that grows rampant. The green briar was everywhere. We have not done a good job in recent years of keeping it at bay. My next door neighbor, in order to improve his view, had worked to clip some out of the trees behind my house. 
We had used the area as a junk pile for dead limbs, shrubs etc. 
Mosquitos have been rampant. 
The shrub and growth line had grown up to the back of our fence. We had about a two foot path to get to our debris pile. 
I've weeded and clipped everything in my yard this spring and in doing that, I noticed how much of that wild area was encroaching on my yard. I want to be a better steward. 
Other neighbors have planted veggies and sown wild flowers, had chickens, put up owl houses, bat houses and bird houses behind their houses etc.  
You can see separation and definition between trees in their yard. They have a much better line of sight from their back yards. Behind my house looked like a jungle. 

 I got out and began clearing.
I don't know why this area of Texas is called Cross Timbers. It may be because it is nearly impossible to walk through. 
Green briar is horrible. It hitch hikes up anything to get to the sun. We have naturally growing grapevine so it would hike up that. It crawls along the top of smaller shrubs. It climbs over dead trees. 
In fact we had an eight foot dead tree trunk back there but we couldn't see it because of all the shrubs and green briar. 
The vine seems to come back each year from root stock. The previous years growths clumped together look like a dense brown curtain. 

My goal is to clear this except for non invasive shrubs, oak trees and other trees with a beautiful shape. 
I'd like to have a small vegetable patch. If there isn't enough sun for that than we will let it be a woodland shade garden. 
We have the frame for a porch swing. I'd like to set that up. I'd like to sow wild flowers. I'd also like to have a compost bin and area for plant overflow. 

 In 5 mornings of work, we have made good progress. Invasive junk shrubs, trees, weeds and vines have been cut down. 
We've reached the point, however, where we need a chipper. 
Bill tried to get one at Harbor Freight. There were none in the area. Hmmm. I guess other people are cleaning things up too. He's got one of order.
 We've also reached the 95 degree mark. It's supposed to be 100 tomorrow. Yuck. 

I've found some childhood remnants. 

 Bill thinks we have cleared about 15 yards into the woods. 

 It's one of those weird things where you don't feel like you're making progress but you are. 
Once you step back you can see what you've done but then it all feels overwhelming. 
It will be slow going from now on, I think.

I've been busy with that and puttering with the shed. 
I hope to get the shed staged and photographed this week. 
I'm enjoying my little pool as a break from the heat. 

That is about it. 
How are you? 
I hope you are well. 


  1. Katie the woods are beautiful but like you said you have to clear out to get through it. I would put up a bat house or two. One bat will eat over 1,000 mosquitos a night. We had one at the back of our yard in the other house and we never had mosquitoes. You have to put it at the back of the property and it has to be up high and they need some kind of body of water within I think 5 miles. The females are the only ones allowed in the bat houses. They take good care of their offspring and the Males eat lots of mosquitos to please the females. I found out all this info when we put up a bat house. They come out only at dusk when the mosquitoes are active and eat them and then they do it again at dawn. We never once saw the bats but we knew they were there because the mosquitoes were never around. You just cannot put them too close to a house or garage as they will try then to get into the attic or rafters. Good Luck.

  2. You and Bill are a good team, Katie! I admire you for getting out there and clearing the area. Best of luck in getting the chipper and continuing on your progress.

  3. That looked like a big job but now you have more open space that you can enjoy.