Please share your experience in reclaiming your weeds and vines covered land

We have a piece of land behind the creek probably about 3000-5000 sq ft that has no machinery access - creek is running in deep ravine . It is cleared of trees and time ago it was one hole golf course built by previous owner as our neighbor told us. Now it is covered with bittersweet, poison ivy and ferns. There are few spots that are clearer than others, we suspect this is where the artificial grass fabric was placed. We can see few pieces of it , but most covered with organic deposition. I would really like to reclaim this land and build full enclosure about 25X18 to plant honeyberry bushes. The question is - how to accomplish clean up and how to keep jungles away from my cleared land.

For clean up the idea is to visualize approximate borders of future enclosure, move borders outward about 6’ each direction and mark clean up area. In the cleanup area go with shovel and/or mattock digging up vines. Did I mention I have to do it in hazmat suit, rubber boots and gloves because of poison ivy?(Is there any poison ivy screen for skin I can use? ) Probably also protection glasses… I will have to pile debris somewhere around there, because it will contain poison ivy and couldn’t be burned. The ferns is a different story. Most of them growing in thick patches and I am not sure I can really dig them up. I hope I will be able to place the enclosure the way I do not have to dig up ferns. After I removed as much of the vines I could I should wait until new grows from roots I left appears. Not sure if this happens in a week, month or next spring. But this new wave of vines I am planning to spray as many time as needed while it continues to regrow. The best hope is if I start now I should be able to kill all the roots by fall of 2024 (realistic or not?) and be ready to plant in spring of 2025. Now question is how to keep jungles from reclaiming my land back? My idea is, to cover 6’ wide perimeter around the enclosure with heavy duty material - not sure yet, will it be that artificial grass I am going to dig out, heavy duty landscaping fabric or something else(I am thinking about 6mil plastic and landscaping fabric above it to cover from sun.This should create a death row for any growing thing. But every fall I will have to clean up this strip from leaves so it doesn’t turn into breeding grounds and every summer watch vines attempting to go over or under. And watch for seeds germinating inside the enclosure
Now about actual schedule. It would be great to make first strike on vines when it will make them more vulnerable. Not sure though what time of the year it is. The easiest would be doing initial clean up in fall - poison ivy will be very visible with red leaves and cool weather is a plus when you working in hazmat suit. But will it be the best time to do max damage? Or it is better to go in the middle of the summer?
Sure I want to plant my bushes as soon as possible. But I do not see a different course of action that will allow me to plant next spring.
I am all ears to hear about your experience fighting jungles and you suggestions about my plan.

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you could rent a goat. or burn it with glyphosate

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If you use an herbicide, you’ll need both glyphosate and triclopyr.

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Even if I burn with chemical first , I still will have to remove remains, and they still are poisonous even dry.

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Yes glyphosate (2qts) + 24-D (1 qt) in 4 gallon triclopyr 4 in diesel ( what i used for tree of heaven).

if you are extremely allergic (knock on wood i’m not) maybe leave alone? some people wind up in the hospital.

you can honestly rent goats in ma for about $1k

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It would be an interesting task to move the goats across the creek!

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i don’t have a clear mental picture of the creek. that small of a size would be quickly handled with a forestry mulcher

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how did the previous owner access it as a golf green if there isn’t access?

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at the time it was a bridge over the creek and I believe it was not that overgrown. the way down to the creek is covered with blackberries. The way up is almost vertical and there is a very rotten log ladder going up. If I start working there I will probably have to substitute it with aluminum ladder so it is safer before we build a permanent stairs and bridge. The bridge is still there and boards are OK, but the logs are very rotten as well, every time I cross it I am ready to end up in the creek with a whole bridge. So transfer goats will be somewhat a challenge. Also I do not understand how goats help. They will eat leaves, OK, may be stems. If they will be doing it all summer long, they may also starve roots. But to dig to plant I still need to remove roots, and they are still “do not touch with bare hands” material.

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You could try a controlled burn in lieu of goats. Have a pump ready to extinguish anything using the creek. Anything that comes back, spray it in late summer.

Just don’t breathe in the poison ivy smoke…

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You could rent a billy goat… for the initial brush/vine clearing… since you are evidently very allergic to PI… you might have to hire someone to operate it for you.

Once cleared… a large black tarp over it all for a few months… would that not kill everything ?

Then add layers of cardboard, compost, wood chips…

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Poison ivi and fire is a path to emergency room. If not for me, then for my neighbours… You can’t control wind.

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Depending on where u ask the question is the answer you will get.

Modern Day Citizens- Spray it with the strongest stuff you can buy.
Lazy People- Hire a Landscaping Crew.
Permaculture People- Try Spraying Vinegar.
Country People- You start at daylight and you quit when the job is done.

My vote would be to hire some folks that are looking for cash jobs in your area. Pay by the job not by the hour. Have them cut it all with whatever they want to bring…and stack it all in a pile and since you said you cant burn it… have them tarp the pile.

If i was about 13 years old again and you were ok with letting me and my buddies do it… we would do it for $20 if you had some bologna sandwiches and koolaid for us. We would take that money and have the times of our lives and ask you if u had more work for us to do.
Those times are gone though… along with the work ethic and spirit of working for a dollar. Probably a neighbor would call the law and you would be charged with violations of child labor laws.

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it seems like the starting point is to have good access, with provision to get minimal equipment across. I have rented the billy goat brush hog and i later bought the dr equivalent. but if you are very allergic this wouldn’t be a good idea. since the creek sounds overgrown seems you could push the PI into the brush.

Yeah the days are long gone when I worked for $1/hr putting in hay and was happy for the money.

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Nothing is inaccesible technically. We drive through whatever with bulldozer , truck, bobcat or whatever it takes. Slash and burn, herbicide, etc. There are a million ways to get there. Have mowed off an acre+ poison ivy this year but i do watch myself. To say im not allergic is not completely true. Generally i dont break out but i still feel like i’m boiling inside a few days afterwards. One of my friends brush hogged an acre of ragweed and he was miserable. He thought it was a different plant. One trick i do if it is real bad but just brush is to drag a tractor tire around knocking everything down first. Then i go cut it. If you need a bridge or tube i would roll it in place then build it up as you go across.

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When i was putting in my waterline about 10 yrs ago… i hired the mini excavator that was digging for about 4 hrs to pull down a whole hillside that was covered with brush and vines and brambles and multiflora. It would have taken me weeks with the best blade that i could buy for my weedeater…and likely would have been miserable…let alone the big stuff that i wouldnt have been able to phase without hatchets or machetes. IMHO the best money that i have spent vs the manual labor aspect of it.

Clearing that hillside made a world of difference… now its full of pollinator stuff…and nice habitat… some brambles and natives also. Years and years of enjoyment for 4hrs of pay.

I have a buddy that does mini excavator work on the side…he charges $100/hr which is cheap… A landscaping crew would probably charge more to do it and do a lesser job i think… so yes sometimes the right tool for the job is best.

As a farmboy it would probably take me a week or so and probably a couple of bottles of calamine lotion. I would have lived but hated every second of it… Dad would come home from work and either give me an atta boy and a beer…or point out every thing i did wrong… thats just how it was. The atta boy was all that i cared about…so i usually did the job right.

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I am constantly trying to “beat back the wild” at my place and reclaim space and keep it. So I look forward to hearing what other people do. I have found the thread: https://growingfruit.org/t/5-rules-to-reduce-maintenance/ very useful as far as thinking about long term maintenance.

I would absolutely get a bridge and path first - at a minimum something sturdy enough to take a lawn tractor or mower across. Maybe you could also cross your neighbors land if that makes it more accessible, until you get your solution in place.

I have a ~5000sq.ft garden area (for tomatoes, veggies, etc.) and it took me about two years to be able to use any of it. About half is designated “path” and I’m probably only using about 500 sq.ft. worth of garden bed. In the 2000 sqft that is unused, about half got overwhelmed by weeds already this year when I couldn’t keep up - though the nature of the weeds has changed to rhizomes and bulbs and it’s way better.

I started in spring, which was okay because I could get some things as they emerged, but then it rapidly got out of hand and I couldn’t keep up and was overwhelmed by weeds. I ended up using a scythe in late summer and fall (American scythe, like you’d use for brush clearing, the kind with the long handle that you stand and swing). I then raked into a pile and stuffed into ginormous trashbag.

I have no problems with chemicals and tried them in some areas, but stuff still came up and I was hoping to plant in 1 year so didn’t want to completely bomb the area or use black plastic and have to wait. In retrospect, it ended up being two years, so I should have just done that in the first place.

I’m now pretty much down mowable space and weeds that have rhizomes. For the rhizome weeds, I cut the stems and paint with glyphosate. The biggest problem is the tubers rot and leave a boggy hole. Anything between beds I’ve left enough space to mow. For the garden beds, I hand weed and use wood chips to try and suppress weeds.

I tried using landscape fabric and it was a disaster - even doubled up and covered in wood chips. I had weeds pushing through, I had weeds on top and I couldn’t mow. The fabric would get all pushed up and then I’d run it over the with mower and then I’d have landscape fabric bits everywhere. So, this summer, I’m busy pulling out all the landscape fabric! I think it would work if I just used it a tiny bit around certain plants, but not for between rows.

For poison ivy:

I do not dig anything. I cut the stem near the root and I paint or spray glyphosate directly on the stem at high concentration. For some poison ivy that wouldn’t die near my house, I tried triclopyr. Triclopyr and glyphosate seem equally effective around here - but you can’t dilute them to 2% and spritz on the leaves like you would for some other weeds - you have you use at high concentration and put it on the cut stem.

If I can remove the vine, I put it immediately in a giant contractor’s trash bag. If I was doing a big area all at once I’d probably get a giant roll of plastic (I think the one I have is 10mil and about 20 feet wide once it’s unfolded. I wouldn’t use a thin type for this) and lay a huge sheet down, pile the vines on it, then fold it up at the end of the day and take to dump.

If I can’t remove the vine immediately, it becomes problematic because I wait for it to die before pulling it down. I should have a system for this, but I don’t. I just try to remember where it was. Maybe you should tag things like that with some plastic tape? If it’s not climbing, I can usually pull it up and stick it in the bag.

Because contact other than my (disposable) gloves is accidental, I wear long sleeve shirt, long pants, boots, hat, and gloves . After clearing, I clean my tools, take clothes off and put them immediately in the washing machine and take a shower. As a kid we were told to take cold showers with hard soap in case of poison oak, so I still do that since it seems sensible. I think if the poison ivy was really thick, and it wasn’t just that I’d be having accidental contact, I’d just wear a Tyvek coverall and throw it away after - but I’d still take the shower.

I don’t mow until I get enough poison ivy out that I’m not driving over swaths of it (I’m not very allergic but I did it once and wasn’t happy after).

Non- poison ivy weed note:
I made the mistake of mowing over some Japanese wisteria last year and I am absolutely paying for it now. I’m sure there are other plants that do the same. It was like every single cutting took root. If you pull on it, every little bit of root (which come off the vine too) sprouts a new plant.

If anyone knows how to get rid of this stuff, let me know. I’m busy cutting it by hand, putting in trash bag and painting with glyphosate. I mowed an area, then sprayed immediately to see if it would keep it from coming up. It was reduced, but some is still emerging so I’m spraying again. I can’t believe how crazy this weed is.

This is a great idea. I would not hire a landscaper since I’m pretty sure I’d pay a pretty penny and I’d still just end up with a weed patch. There aren’t teens available for hire in my area - there is way way too much available work already. However, I’d pay 100/hour for someone who would be willing to drive heavy equipment in and clear it so I could put black plastic down for a year. I think you can see from my experience above the time and money I’ve spent would make this worth it.

As far as clearing a perimeter and keeping things out… I have to be able to mow anything that I don’t want to rapidly turn into an autumn olive patch. It doesn’t matter how big the perimeter is; birds bring the seeds and they grow like crazy.

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If you dont mind me sharing this experience-

This ‘hellstrip’ has always been an eyesore…its not far from my house. Nothing but crappy vines and unwanted seedlings…weeds… just stuff to weedeat… Putting a shovel in the ground you get pure rock and roots of sorts… Nothing that looks good when you shovel it.

I did some major landscaping and made a huge brush pile… almost a full sized sycamore tree that i was told would never ever ever burn completely. This site was 10 feet tall with logs and brush.

I had to use buckets of diesel fuel mixed with motor oil and tires to get it to burn…i felt horrible about it. After all was said and done the earth was scorched… dead. Looked like the inside of a volcano…lifeless. Yet many lbs of woodash remained. I threw a couple of walmart bags of seeds that i gathered by the roadside in the fall… all of the pretty flowers that grow near roadsides while driving i just stopped and gathered.

The next spring i noticed things growing…lush…green. This is 3 years later. RIFE with life and happy times going on. I walk by this area and gaze and smile… it makes me happy.

So i had to do some wrong to make this right… and its worth it.

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This is from Texas government: " Urushiol oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to five years.
So one option is wait. Never burn poison ivy. Breathing it can be worse than touching it.

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You hit the nail on the head there, sad but true.

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