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Clearing land for an orchard next to my house

 
pollinator
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The lot next to my house has become over grown after 20 years of neglect (after original clearing).  I am buying it to create a fruit tree orchard and want to keep some of the larger tree trunks as pollinator habitats.

I am thinking of topping the trees about 8 feet off the ground and drilling small holes to attract mason and leaf cutter type bees.  

Any ideas on how to use this to attract other pollinator or beneficial insects/birds/bats?

I will also be making large/medium and small rubbish (rocks, sticks, concrete blocks, bricks) piles for snakes and lizards.

A couple of small ponds and sources for clay.

Is there anything else?  
 
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Dennis Bangham wrote:
I am thinking of topping the trees about 8 feet off the ground and drilling small holes to attract mason and leaf cutter type bees.  

 



I believe this is going to have a pollarding affect on the tree, and tons of new suckers will sprout from the trunk. I am unsure if cavity brooding insects will use a living tree. They very well could, especially if the holes are bored for them, but I am only familiar with them using deadwood.
 
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Dennis Bangham wrote:The lot next to my house has become over grown after 20 years of neglect (after original clearing).  I am buying it to create a fruit tree orchard and want to keep some of the larger tree trunks as pollinator habitats.

I am thinking of topping the trees about 8 feet off the ground and drilling small holes to attract mason and leaf cutter type bees.  

Any ideas on how to use this to attract other pollinator or beneficial insects/birds/bats?

I will also be making large/medium and small rubbish (rocks, sticks, concrete blocks, bricks) piles for snakes and lizards.

A couple of small ponds and sources for clay.

Is there anything else?  



If I were doing it, I wouldn't clear any more land than you need immediately.  In other words, clear a place for each tree and whatever plants you are going to put around it, and leave the native growth alone.  Obviously, when you are ready to put in a pond, clear that spot, and so on.  The natives will already be housing an enormous variety of life that already has a symbiotic relationship with the things that have been growing there for 20 years .  I would only disturb as much as I had to at any given time.  
 
Dennis Bangham
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Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
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James Freyr wrote:

I believe this is going to have a pollarding affect on the tree, and tons of new suckers will sprout from the trunk. I am unsure if cavity brooding insects will use a living tree. They very well could, especially if the holes are bored for them, but I am only familiar with them using deadwood.



Good point. I should investigate the type of trees further before cutting them down.  I will keep the Red Mulberry and American Persimmon since coppicing them this winter will allow me to graft superior varieties a couple of years later.

The group I have coming in cannot do the trees bigger than 8 to 10 inches wide, so they will stay until I need to use those areas.  I want to put down some cover crops since this area has a lot of clay very close to the surface and a couple of years of cover cropping may help there.

The neighbor on the other side of this lot is buying 20 foot from me so he can expand his garden. But he has some large trees that are leaning toward his manicured backyard and shed.  So he wants to remove those oaks.  Working with the neighbor here will only pay off in the long term.
 
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How about pivoting the idea of standing trunk/mason bee home to using the downed wood for fencing/windbreaks that you can still drill full of holes?
 
Dennis Bangham
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I think the mason bees want to be off the ground to avoid mites.  
I am going to make large to small piles of wood, rocks and debris to make homes for lizards and snakes. I will also put up a privacy fence since I also need to block squirrels and chipmunks and other. The regular neighborhood problems.
 
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As Lorinne suggested, clearly knowing what you have, and has obviously been working the last 20 years makes sense.

When you ID what is already there, it will create a blueprint for what and how to replicate, if anything.

Check out Bat International - https://www.batcon.org/

There is likely a local Audubon group that would be happy to supplement your knowledge for attracting and keeping ideal bird species.

And of course, your neighborly leanings are important. Does your neighbor know about your plans? They might actually be an asset if there is something they can gain from your project.. ie bird watching, less mosquitoes becasue of bats and birds, not to mention a few bushels of delicious homegrown fruit, etc...
 
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