Prairie Restoration in Oak Savanna

Clearing Brush for Prairie Restoration with Brush Mower

This is a prairie restoration that we started a while back. The first thing we did a few years ago was girdle the big pine trees. You can see some of the remaining snags in the photos below. This opened up the canopy but also spurred the growth of lots of small woody species that we had to deal with.

Before Photo: Looking south in February 2021

With any of the brush that was over 2 inches OD, we did cut stump treatments in late winter. The small pine trees, of course, we just cut down and did not stump treat. The stump treatments were low enough to the ground so we could come through with a brush mower about a month-and-a-half later without hitting the big cut stumps.

After Photo: Looking south in early April, 2021

Using the walk-behind brush mower was slick. It chopped most of the brush into small pieces, so we didn’t have to haul it to burn piles. It also shatters the stumps (much like a forestry mower). This will reduce the vigor of the cut brush.

Driving through thick brush with the brush mower

We will have lots of re-sprouts from the brush that we did not treat. We plan to mow again later this spring after the cool season plants (mostly non-native) have started growing vigorously but before the warm season plants (mostly native) are very high. This second cutting will also cut the woody species that have re-sprouted. Then, in the mid-summer and fall we will treat the perennial weeds and the woody plants. Since this area has a native seed bank, we’ll see next year how much of the area we will have to seed.

Cut stump treatments near a large red oak using the Small Foam Herbicide Dispenser

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