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I am trying to reforest a large, sometimes very steep slope that was previously covered in weeds, brambles, and garbage.

I am using species native to the Pacific Northwest such as:

  • Vaccinium parvifolium (red huckleberry)
  • Mahonia aquifolium (tall Oregon grape)
  • Amelanchier alnifolia (saskatoon berry)
  • Gaultheria shallon (salal)
  • Malus fusca (Pacific crabapple)
  • Sambucus spp. (elderberry)
  • Solidago canadensis (goldenrod)
  • Chamaenerion angustifolium (fireweed)

This is not an exhaustive list, but is representative of the species that have been successful so far.

How can I directly sow these seeds over large areas? For the berry/fruit bearing species, will scattering the ripe fruit directly on the ground work, or does the flesh need to be removed to mimic digestion by a bird?

The slope is not bare soil, but a mix of cut brambles, woodchips, and fallen leaves from nearby big leaf maples. If soil is necessary for germination, will making balls of dirt and seeds (seed bombs) help?

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  • seeds germinate very easily when mixed into wood chips as the chips hold the moisture in as a seed starting medium. Aug 10, 2021 at 18:20
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    You can also read this article: mypositiveoutlooks.com/… Aug 10, 2021 at 18:22
  • If you have removed the garbage, I would try to follow the sequence that plants would colonize naturally. Start by waiting for another crop of weeds and brambles to appear and cover the soil to stabilize it from being washed away by rain, but keep the brambles in check by cutting them down each year. Then add quick growing species like goldenrod and fireweed that will build up humus in the soil. Growing trees from seed will take years, and germination rates are often very low.
    – alephzero
    Aug 10, 2021 at 19:52
  • Seeds might germinate easily in a mixture of woodchips and water, but they won't grow unless their roots find some soil.
    – alephzero
    Aug 10, 2021 at 19:54
  • @alephzero That is more or less what I have been doing so far. I remove the garbage, cut the brambles/weeds and drop in place, cover bare areas left by large pieces of garbage or sparse brambles with arborist chips, and plant natives by hand. This season I will try sowing some quick growing species as well. I'm just wondering how I can encourage these other native shrubs to grow. Germinating and planting individually is time and labour intensive for the size/terrain.
    – hwm
    Aug 10, 2021 at 20:07

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