My Everchanging Garden

Gardening That Grows With Me

Creating A Woodland

The back of our property is bordered by what is largely a scrub bush and a 2 acre or so ‘sinkhole’ which receives local water runoff. My hopes are to turn the scrub brush into a woodland which will include some native Ontario trees and shrubs. In other areas along the back of our property, I’d like to use a variety of evergreen and flowering shrubs for summer and winter interest. The first step required removing two very large but ailing trees as these would likely fall down on their own within the next few years anyway.


I’m glad it wasn’t me climbing that tree on a cold snowy day in February! We were left with a lifetime supply of wood. Anybody want to help me move this? By the end of March it finally warmed up and I was able to get started on clearing. Although there are some good native Ontario trees in the site, many of them are completely covered in grape vine or surrounded by heavy growth of raspberry canes. Another problem is an abundance of Manitoba Maple saplings which I will have to remove and keep on top of. They have completely taken over our neighbour’s back bush.


The rather large woodpile it created:


Another native Ontario tree and one of many sizable prunus serotina (black cherry) rescued from the grapevines. Unfortunately some have black knot fungus. I will try to save as many as I can as the galls are currently relatively small. I was hoping to save as many existing trees as I could and these are certainly nice looking trees.


Everything is cleared and ready for planting among the native trees and shrubs we managed to save.


The woodland trees are now in and mulched to keep the invasive weeds down until I can build a nice herbaceous layer. By the way, it took three dump truck loads of mulch!


  1. Walt on

    just wanted to let you know great and interesting your blog is and did i mention — helpful! we just bought home w a 2 acre lot and am finding myself overwhelmed with ideas, visions, and my own inpatience —- but thank you for easing this a bit for me!

  2. Gardener on

    ? I found the website while looking for woodland garden ideas. Why are you planting a Norway maple in the other garden? Norway maples in my area are an agressive invasive tree. The trees actively retard the growth of native plant species.

    I would suggest doing reserach and reconsidering the items you plan to include in the “woodland” garden 2.

    As I am looking at the post above…I have no idea how you managed to create a woodland garden. Trees take several years to grow and many of the shrubs and small plants in a woodland setting require shade. If you have cut down the top canopy and only left a few small trees…how did you manage to start with the understory plants.

    I’m curious to see how it turned out. I woudl imagine the plants got too much sun…or you had to put in full/partial sun plants which would not survive once the tree canopy grows in…from the looks of the trees left…in 7-10 years.

    I am honestly puzzled as to how the “woodland” garden attempt above turned out.

    Normally a woodland contains layers, the tall canopy, the midlevel and the plants closer to the floor. The taller trees may be sun-loving etc…but they’re providing the shade and humus that the lower story plants Require. You’d normally try to recreate the natural woodland progression in a manmade “woodland” garden. It is not really going to be sustainable if you start with small trees? How are the woodland plants being shaded? You would end up wasting a lot of money on replacing plants…

    I’m sorry if I sound critical…but I have been gardening for a while and know a bit about native plants and woodland species in particular. If a new-bie reads the blog, he she could end up making costly mistakes. Plants aren’t free, and a woodland garden may require more long-term planning if you start with a greatly-reduced or non-existent canopy… The small trees in the images…I would assume are going to get much bigger…unless you are planning to continue to prune them…

  3. everchanging gardener on

    Hello Gardener,
    your comments about a woodland garden needing a canopy, understory trees and shrubs and native woodland perennials is exactly right and we are, on our property, working towards that goal. Much of our property was already cleared (it was originally farmland) and the ‘woodlands’ were really scrub brush with some great trees (burr oaks, black cherry and others) but also problems with invasive grape vine and other invasive plants. While we removed two problem old trees, the rest remained and in the process we rescued many larger trees that were covered and being stunted by grapevine that completely covered the tops of the trees. These trees have now flourished and are now roughly 25 feet tall and growing. Our goals are long term, we do not expect to convert a scrub brush into a woodland overnight but it is certainly our long term objectives and we are enjoying the process along the way.


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