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Site preparation enhances seedling survival by reducing competing vegetation. It also makes an area easier to plant. The technique used depends on soil type, slope, condition of the site, existing natural vegetation, and cost. Soils, slope, and ground cover are the three principal factors that determine the potential for erosion on any site. In Indiana, site preparation is often done by hand, mechanically or with the use of herbicides.
Mechanical and Hand Clearing
Mechanical site preparation involves the use of heavy equipment to clear the planting site of unwanted vegetation or planting obstructions. This may be as simple as plowing and discing an area of dense sod, or as major as completely clearing a site of undesirable trees (such as honey locust). The BMP goals are to keep the soil on site, avoid stream sedimentation and maintain site drainage. When mechanical site preparation is necessary, consider these guidelines.
Warning: The Indiana Flood Control Act prohibits construction and placing of fill, including woody debris, in floodway areas. Clearing in designated "floodways" may require a permit from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water. Heavy clearing in designated wetlands may also require a permit. For information call the Division of Water at 317/232-4160 or the Division of Forestry at 317/232-4105.
Chemical Site Preparation
Several herbicides may be used to eliminate weed competition or undesirable trees. With herbicides there is no soil disturbance. They can be used where steep slopes prevent the use of machinery. Nevertheless, there are also risks in the use of herbicides. The following guidelines minimize these risks.