Our Native Landscape Story (Part 12): Expanding a Woodland Plant Community

This is Part 12 of Our Native Landscape Story.

Each of the posts in this series has showcased sections of our yard and what we've done in each section including before and after photos.

Part 1 and Part 2: Removing Impervious Surfaces
Part 3: Removing Stone Mulch
Part 4: Removing Invasive Species and Smothering Grass
Part 5: Smothering More Grass and Planting Woodland Natives
Part 6: Planting Natives on a Steep Hillside
Part 7: Planting the Hillside
Part 8: Removing More Stone Mulch and Planting Prairie Plugs
Part 9: Working with Damaged Soil
Part 10: Acquiring a Grant
Part 11: The Other Half of the Grant Area

Part 12 is our backyard from the fenceline inwards to the lawn. The entire backyard (and the majority of the whole lot) was lawn when we bought our house in the fall of 2004. Our backyard is situated on top of a gravel esker overlooking a wetland area. It slopes steeply beyond the fence downwards to the property edge. This area is about 25 feet deep and 50 feet across.
Before Photo. Early April 2005
We wanted to reduce the size of the lawn and
enlarge the existing woodland that remained.

April 2006. We planted 200 bare root native shrubs (Nannyberry
Viburnum, Elderberry, Cranberry Viburnum, Downy Arrowwood
Viburnum, Red Osier Dogwood, Serviceberry, Gray Dogwood
and American Hazelnut) in the background and some potted larger native shrubs in the foreground. These were all planted through the existing lawn. We layered extra leaves in the area where we would be smothering the lawn around the shrubs.

In the photo above, the main plant growing around the shrubs is
the invasive creeping charlie which grew extensively throughout the lawn.
June 2007. Lawn around the shrubs was smothered with paper
and mulch to redefine the woodland edge. New trees were planted
including Ironwoods, Hackberries and Red Maples (all existing species
in this area).
Early May 2009. Started to add native perennial forbs and sedges to
create an herbaceous layer amongst the shrubs and trees. Woodland phlox,
Big Leaved Aster, Penn Sedge, Wild Columbine, Early Meadow Rue,
Zig Zag Goldenrod, Downy Yellow Violets and Wild Geraniums.
July 2010. More trees species added, Basswood, Bur Oak, Black
Cherry, Wafer Ash and Sugar Maple. Hazelnut shrubs in foreground
left are thriving in the dry gravelly soil. A nice layer of leaf litter
has built up and so we added more spring ephemerals like Hepatica,
Large Flowered Bellwort and Bloodroot.