The Woods in Your Backyard: Learning to Create and Enhance Natural Areas around Your Home

Publication Number: NRAES-184
Cost: $24.00
Length: 138 pages
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1-933395-10-9, 978-1-933395-10-4
Authors: Jonathan Kays, Joy Drohan, Adam Downing, Jim Finley

Download a low-resolution, fair-use copy of NRAES-184 (2.9 MB)

The Woods in Your Backyard promotes the stewardship of small parcels of land for the personal enjoyment of the owners and improved environmental quality for society. This book is geared towards owners of 1-10 acres of land that is forested or has unmowed natural areas and to owners interested in turning mowed lawn area into a forest. The first four parts (Introduction, Inventory Your Property, Ecological Principles, and Put Your Knowledge into Practice) describe concepts necessary to fulfill land management goals for your property. Part five is a workbook with blank activity sheets designed to apply the lessons in parts I-IV to your own land. Includes color photographs throughout. Also includes a list of resources, a glossary, and an index.

Written by

Jonathan Kays
Joy Drohan
Adam Downing
Jim Finley


Herbicide/Pesticide Precautionary Statement

About the Authors

Part I: Introduction

Lesson 1: Identify Your Interests in the Land
Case Study: The Nelsons
Lesson 2: Reality Check: Is Your Family with You?
Lesson 3: Interests Table
Lesson 4: Constraints to Land Management

Part II: Inventory Your Property

Lesson 1: Your Place in the Landscape
Lesson 2: The Concept of Land Management Units
Lesson 3: Identify the Trees and Shrubs on Your Land

Part III: Ecological Principles

Lesson 1: The Dynamic Natural Area: Principles of Succession
Lesson 2: Principles of Forestry
Lesson 3: Water Resources and Your Natural Area
Lesson 4: Introduction to Wildlife Ecology

Part IV: Put Your Knowledge into Practice

Lesson 1: Recreation Potential
Lesson 2: Aesthetic Potential
Lesson 3: Choosing Projects for Your Natural Area
Lesson 4: Land Management Techniques

Best Management Practices
Brush Piles
Creating a Natural Haven or Campfire/Camping Area
Creating an Opening
Crop Tree Release

Firewood Cutting
Food Plots
Girdling to Kill Unwanted Trees and Create Snags
Herbicide Application for Control of Exotic/Invasive Plants
Mast Trees

Planting Trees or Shrubs
Removing Grapevines
Streamside Stabilization through Planting

Timber Stand Improvement
Trail and Road Design
Trail and Road Design -- Wet Areas
Trail and Road Drainage

Trail and Road Maintenance

Lesson 5: Make a Timetable and Spell Out the Details
Lesson 6: Record Your Progress

Part V: Workbook


Activity 1: Map It Out
Activity 2: What Have You Got and What Do You Want?
Activity 3: Family Goals Assessment
Activity 4: Identify Your Interests in the Land
Activity 5: Investigate the Legal Constraints on Your Land

Activity 6: Beyond Your Boundaries
Activity 7: Designate Land Management Units
Activity 8: Get to Know Your Trees
Activity 9: Identify Successional Stages
Activity 10: Assess Competition among Trees

Activity 11: Assess Tree Reproduction
Activity 12: Survey for Broken and Dead Trees
Activity 13: Assess Invasive and Exotic Plants
Activity 14: Water Resources around You
Activity 15: Habitat Elements on Your Land

Activity 16: Assess Your Natural Area's Suitability for Recreation
Activity 17: How Could You Improve Your Natural Area's Aesthetic Appeal?
Activity 18: Identify and Rank Your Objectives
Activity 19: Project Schedule and Details
Activity 20: Record Your Progress

Case Study: The Lees
Case Study: The Rothmans


Appendix A: Summary of Some Characteristics of Important Tree Species in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Region

Appendix B: Relative Value of Various Tree Species as Wildlife Food

Appendix C: Basic Habitat Requirements, Food Sources, and Management Opportunities for Common Kinds of Wildlife, Eastern United States

Appendix D: Tree and Shrub Uses and Site Requirements, Eastern United States




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