Watershed diagram with run off across brush clearing

Damage of regular brush clearing

Neighbors made available to me an opportunity resource by clear cutting brush between our homes.  It was a nuisance to them, bamboo, young poplar, scrub pines, and ivy.  Within this still stands large oak, hickory, and birch.  This hill as outlined by image in red is about a 30 degree slope heavily eroded.

What they didn't understand is how the young brush was holding back the hill, minimizing damage as these trees repair surface soil.  It's understandable, but worse, their contractor didn't know any better either doing only half a job.  All the brush and bamboo was cut off at the ground, then thrown in the woods.

I say “Opportunity resource” because it allowed me to do multiple things.  (1) To prepare a demonstration area for hill remediation and erosion control, (2) Provides a clearing for several small ponds to catch drain run off, and (3) Bamboo stalks to propagate in the nursery.  To learn details on how to do this get on the waiting list for the next “Erosion Control Methods” class — simply contact us.  Meanwhile, I'll cover some highlights below.

Here's what's important for the Permaculture Designer …

  1. Contractor missed out on the most profitable part of the job.  Clearing brush is just a fraction of the overall job.  When I asked my neighbor if she preferred wild flowers or grass on the hill she smiled and said both.  Even she knew the job wasn't done.  This job could have been sold as a beautiful meadow at a premium.
  2. Commercial methods of running in heavy equipment makes a mess.  I heard the brush cutters and chainsaws earlier today, but was working with a client, so I didn't get to see what was going on.  It cost them fuel, equipment, and still looks like garbage.  And it will look worse later if not properly remediated.
  3. Left behind a lot of valuable resources.  Erosion control could have been as easy as geo-textile with on contour faggots.  Best of all, most of the materials they would needed came down with the cut.  With a billhook I processed all the brush in under 45 minutes, tomorrow I'll bundle and lay in shallow swales before seeding.
  4. No erosion management provided.  A simple up sell of erosion control, plus over seeding would maintain integrity of the hill to reduce run off and would look great.  Any novice could look at this hill to see past erosion problems.  This particular neighbor pays every year to have the area above it seeded and every two years to clear this patch.  It's bad management and now they know better.

You can see how the whole job was designed in a project plan (Plan# LB19) I'm putting together around this project.  Details are not available right now, but stay tuned for a complete treatment.  Plus, I'll outline inputs and outputs to show you how plentiful this particular means of processing can be.  Frankly, I'm already happy with the 19 bamboo segments, 15 live pegs, and now that hill is cleared for your benefit.

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About Justin Hitt

If you want to get more from your small farm, homestead, or estate, ... Justin Hitt is a Permaculture Design Consultant with more than two decades of experience with organic gardening. He teaches the practical application of critical thinking, entrepreneurial ecology, and homestead management. Practical insights for practitioners, estate owners, and homesteaders. To see if his insights are right for you, join our free newsletter.