In an everchanging world that focuses on living fast, more and more people want to get in touch with nature in order to relax. There are a lot of ways this can be done – some people go hiking while others go to beaches and sunbathe to get away from the usual way of living. What all of these examples have in common is that people are more or less always surrounded by nature.
Someone probably a bit lazy, but very smart, thought of the following – how cool would it be if I could do this in my own backyard? Think about it. When you think about being in nature the first thing that comes to your mind is probably woodland areas. Could you have a woodland area so close to you that you could have your morning coffee in it? Could you take your breaks off work by simply walking out of your house? It may be easier than you’d think.
This article will go over how and why trees are usually grown and give you advice on what to do before planting a forest in your own back yard. This will be shown in three different steps.
Growing forest trees
Growing trees in your backyard is not something that’s unknown to people, as more rural areas usually have at least a tree or two to provide shade and give a bit of greenery to the property. Even more often you can see fruit trees, sometimes in the dozens, used for both of these purposes plus providing delicious fruit to the owners.
However, these kinds of trees are not what we will be talking about in this article. We’re talking bigger. However, be mindful. People have been trying to regrow forests for a long time since trees and forests are very important for wildlife as well as human life as well - oxygen production is one of the main appeals of having forests on the planet. So far, we as a species have not made a huge leap towards quick regrowth of cut down forests. We mostly rely on reforestation, which is basically cutting down and replanting trees based on planning how much will be cut down and replanted. Therefore, it's difficult to transform your yard into backwoods short-term, but in case you're willing to be patient, you can begin with a natural procedure that will in the long run do what you want. Certain sources state that a mature forest can be grown in as little as 10 years, whereas naturally, it would take around 600 to 1000 years.
What you will need to do is not reforestation, but afforestation – the process of creating woods where previously they did not exist. There are a few steps you should undertake in order to make the best out of your soon-to-be forest. So, let’s get into them.
Do your research
When planning to grow a forest, treat it as any other big project. You would not start building a house before thinking about your budget, buying a property, or even getting a permit, would you?
Growing a forest will also likely require permission from your local government, so hop over to a local governmental body and ask around about regulations and requirements. It’s much better to have permission than to regret not asking for it and having to cut down your hard work several years into it.
A big part of researching also goes to the specific seeds that you will be planting. It would be great if you could plant palm or pine trees, but if your climate does not fit, you will just be disappointed.
Sketching a design to see how your yard will look with the trees can also be good. It will give you a good overall look and you can see where you can put down more trees or additional features you want.
Lastly, give a thought to what you want to do with your yard AFTER it grows into a forest. Yes, it is okay if you just grow a bunch of trees and let nature do the rest, but imagine what you can do if you plan ahead and take the features into consideration. Set aside the effort to design out the transformation with the goal that the yard stays appealing and usable to the degree you wish. Incorporate hardscaping (walkways, seating areas, and so forth.). Rather than growing a full forest, it is advisable you plant some smaller plants as well such as shrubs, dwarf trees, groundcovers, and perennials. It is better if they are native so you know they will be predisposed to successful growth, but this is not mandatory.
Pick your plants
The importance of picking your plants cannot be understated, so we have dedicated one paragraph to it as well.
First of all, let’s talk about soil. Soil is different in various parts of the world, with some parts having clay-based soil, some being very nutrient rich etc. Since it is likely you haven’t built your house on a fresh forest clearing, it is safe to assume your soil will not be as fertile as you would want for a forest as it has not had the roots for a while. Therefore, you might want to prepare for composting to create a rich and fertile environment more than a few inches deep.
A wide variety of flowers would also add to your new garden in both texture and color. Consider natives and non-native plants as they are much easier to develop than trees since they do not require specific soil richness.
Word of warning though – invasive plants can be a real bother so be mindful of those plants that can spread fast. Your neighbors may not appreciate this, and you may even get into legal trouble since some plants are forbidden to be planted due to the possibility of messing up the local ecosystem.
You should also aim for the trees that grow higher instead of wider since it is probable you’re working in a constrained area with specific limits. You do not want an angry neighbor to saw off whatever part of the tree chooses to grow over the fence. However, do not go overboard as taller trees are generally a bigger danger than shorter ones when dealing with stormy weather which may rip them out and throw them onto your house.
Prepare your yard (and your nerves!)
Once you have picked your trees and other plants and decided how everything is going to look, it is time to prepare your yard.
This starts with the preparation of soil, which we have already mentioned will probably need composting. If it is a large yard, and we can assume it is otherwise you would not go for this project, it would be wise to buy a large amount and mix it with the pre-existing soil.
You should make sure your plants have enough space. Therefore, do not plant trees directly on top of each other but give them space so their roots do not clash. It may seem they have enough separation on the surface, but roots go deep and spread a lot, so in order to have each tree get their own nutrition and not “steal” from each other, try to spread them a bit. On the other hand, some experts maintain that dense planting of saplings is crucial, as density will mean that sunlight will not reach the ground, and rain and leaves will produce natural hummus to pave the way for a self-sustainable forest. It all really depends on the vision that you have for your forest. If you want spare trees with pathways and areas for relaxation, then planning exactly how many trees and planting them in separate enough locations is crucial. If you want a jungle localized in your yard, then be free to plant dense.
The most important thing is to install a watering system. This can get expensive, but believe us when we say it will be extremely worth it since it will minimize how much you need to work around the plants. Drip-systems are great for this, as they will give enough water to each plant, provided you install one device per plant.
All straightforward until now? Well, now is the time to mention what may take away from the enjoyment of having a forest in your backyard. While the trees are small and weak, they need care. In a regular forest, this is not important as the “the rule of strongest” applies – any tree that does not manage to grow will simply wither away and serve as fuel for others which may make it. Nature does not rush and does not need to – whereas you may want to rush the process as much as possible while still maintaining the results you want. Therefore, you should weed all your plants for at least two to three years until they start being self-sustainable. This may take up a lot of your time, but hard work will certainly yield some results.
Lastly, with all the flora will come the fauna. A big part of a forest is all the animal organisms that live inside it. These include but are not limited to insects and birds. Luckily, you do not need to do much on this front. The insects will be drawn by themselves, and birds will sure to follow. Other organisms are sure to follow. However, the downside is that if your yard forest is not too far from your house, you may expect an increase in mosquitoes, flies, and similar pests, so be prepared and at least use window netting.
Planting a forest may seem like a daunting task, but with how available different saplings are currently, you may wish to plant one in your own back yard. And it would not be impossible. To do this, you need a large area, a lot of willpower, and even more patience.
While a lot of people have at least a couple of trees in their gardens, some may want to increase the number and make a full-grown forest in their back yards. This is doable but requires a fair bit of planning. Therefore, be prepared to do the research. Before starting any planting, be sure that you are allowed to plant such a large amount of trees! Some local governments will not allow this, and certainly not if you are not careful when picking plants. Therefore, it is our recommendation to contact the local governing body which can either authorize your plan or at least forward your inquiries to someone who can give you full information.
You should also be mindful of how you’re going to make your garden look when planting the forest! Are you going to focus on an area of relaxation type of thing, or do you want a full-fledged forest? Be sure to decide in advance, since it will be too late to change your mind if you have already planted your trees. Sketch a design before doing anything to avoid this issue.
It would also be advisable to introduce some diversity into your garden, with flowers and shrubs to give texture and color. When picking the plants be sure to keep in mind that not every plant is suitable for all possible soil types – therefore you really can’t go wrong with plants that are already native to the biome you live in. Be sure to choose non-invasive plants in order to avoid any trouble with your neighbors who may not appreciate the sudden spread.
Lastly, be prepared to take care of the forest for at least the first few years. While the forest is fully self-sustainable, if you want it to get to that point fast you will have to give it a little push. Weeding and watering will go a long way.
There it is. Hopefully, by following this advice you will know if growing a forest is right for you. It surely is a daunting and challenging task, but can also be incredibly rewarding.