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Cleared understory but not sure next steps

 
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Attached IMG is what i have cleared, the area does extend back but narrows into a few seperate paths. The ground is heavy clay and hard and does not soak water up much at all. The property has slight contour so water flows across surface eventually to stream. I knew i wanted to clear the understory out to give us more use of the 4acres we have which is mostly wooded. I kept all mature canopy trees which are maple, poplar, black locust, elm and sweetgum. The understory is alot of briar and other unknown shrubs. I plan to keep my clearing to just about what you see in the img.

My plan was to create some channels to get water running underground but that crosses our septic area so maybe outside my skill set. The other plan was to chip/ shred and spread as mulch around cleared area for a few yrs to build up soil and organic matter. The ground cover in this area pre my clearing was non existant, only shrubs. The area also has no leaf litter, my asumption is the surface water after the heavy rains we have had moves the leaves our of this area and down toward stream. I will take a closer look tomorrow on areas I have not cleared and follow this post up.

Did i get carried away on my tractor tearing the area up with the front end loader? Im feeling a bit uneasy about my plan or lack of plan.. i now have this cleared forest area but not clear on what i should do next. Being damp clay soil the ground is already tightly bound and hard, did I compact the ground even more running tractor through? I had plans to use the PTO to run a 4" chipper in the area as well so more tractor traffic around the area to spread it etc.
Long term goals for area, play area for kids, rebuild soil, plant new understory of natives, get water moving from areas that flatten and pool water after rains. Creat paths and "nooks" in the forest. We do have deer through here so need to be considering deer resistant plants... again my soil is just pure clay.. no real top soil loam.
Picture of site

 
Posts: 282
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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ARb,

Welcome.  The clear area looks fine.  What climate are you?  

Wood chips and mulch are the best bet to get the clay broken up and amended.  You are on the right track.  What is the ph of your soil?
 
Arb Hill
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Thanks Jack, i am in north central Ohio so 5/6 zone line. PH of soil is tbd, going to get a soil sample tested.
 
Jack Edmondson
Posts: 282
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Testing is always the best way to know your soil.  Here is a good resource that may give you some insight to your area:

https://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/gmap/

Interactive US Map with soil surveys overlaid.  Will give you a lot of information about the soil in your area.
 
pollinator
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I wouldn’t clear anything else until after you have identified it. Briars could be blackberries or raspberries. Shrubs could be blueberries, plums, service berries, young persimmons, mulberries, and all kinds of useful things.
 
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