Introduction: Reforest Your Yard for Free

Want woods?  It’s easy.  You don’t need money, gardening skills, or tools.  You don’t have to plant a single tree.  You don’t even have to own a shovel.  If you have a little time and energy, you can reforest.  Follow these 3 simple steps.

Step 1: Watch

What grows in your yard when you stop mowing and raking?  Watch for several months and find out.  You may see leaves falling on the ground.  You may see grass or weeds sprouting up.  You may see things like In the 3 accompanying photos: a baby clover, a baby vine, and a baby pine tree.  (You want the pine tree most, of course.)  By watching over time, you'll see what grows into a small tree, versus a shrub, versus a vine, versus a wildflower, versus a grass.  Once you figure out which is which, you will have unlocked the secret formula.  You're ready to make your forest happen.

Step 2: Weed

A meadow is nice, but a forest is nicer.  Grasses, clovers, and wildflowers are nice but they make more of a meadow (or a weed patch) than a forest.  So you want to rip them all out.  Don’t use a lawnmower or it would kill the valuable baby trees.  Rip all the grasses/weeds/wildflowers out, one by one, with your hands.  There may be a lot of them.  Sit down and start yanking up as many as you can.  It provides many hours of relaxing work and it’s cheaper than a gym membership.  There's no hurry; you can do it over the course of weeks or months.  You can also try crushing them with your feet or smothering them with fallen leaves.  Whatever you do, be careful not to kill any baby trees.

If you don't have time to rip up all the weeds, start first on ripping up the weeds that are nearest to your baby trees.  If you can clear a little circle around each baby tree, that's a good start.  In fact, once you see  a baby tree, you might even want to put a flag or marker in the ground next to it to make sure you don't step on it or accidentally rip it up.

You're on your way.  Your forest is beginning to take shape.

Step 3: Wait

Give it time.  Let your trees grow taller and take shape.  Continue to let more fallen leaves pile up and more baby plants sprout up.  (Don't ever rake up those leaves!)  Continue to watch and weed out the undesirables.  You can water your trees once in a while if you want, but it shouldn't be necessary (unless you're suffering a drought).

Within a few years, people should be able to recognize your small trees or shrubs from a distance.  Within a few more years, your trees should be tall enough to hide fences.  Eventually, your trees should be tall enough to hide houses.  Eventually, people will see woods and assume that they have always been there.  Nobody will ever know that those trees were free, never came from any store, and were never planted with any shovel.  If you don't like a particular tree, you can rip it out and start over.  If you love something that looks more like a bush or a vine, keep it.  You can always change your mind later.  You get to shape your forest any way you want.

And that's your forest.  It  may take 10 or more years to grow.  But it doesn't cost you a penny.  You don't need horticultural knowledge from books.  You don't even need a shovel.  You just let nature do her thing and you steer her in the right direction.

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