The Trouble with Driveways

The forest where Tiny House Ontario sits, has had very little human intervention.  I had a few trees go missing on the South East ridge in 2010 (a former neighbour cut them down, to burn for fire wood; they were not his to take).  This was all the damage done to the land when I considered my Tiny House build.

I would like to live there but I also do not want to harm the forest.  I did not want to cut any trees at all, but reasonably, I needed to have a route in.  An entry just makes life so much easier, not just for my own purposes of living, but for the cement delivery, lumber delivery and so on, I required a road.

I did not go about this all helter-skelter and without a good deal of forethought.  In order to put in my driveway I chose the point of least damage through; I made a lot of effort to keep from taking any trees over 3 inches in diameter, and I also did not want to cut a single shag bark hickory.  These hickory trees are rare and protected so it is not only illegal to cut them, it is unethical.  I managed to keep every hickory, but there were a few maples that had to go, so I could have an entry point.  My friends John and Leo cleared the lane all the way back to the ridge, but got four pick up trucks of firewood from a 600 foot long and 8 foot wide lane way, which is a very small and reasonable loss.  They did not clear cut, certainly, but did cut a swath out of the woods.   About half the wood they got came from a large dead maple which wanted for reuse, and thus put the driveway right over it’s old trunk.  Aside from the large dead one, I believe that there were about 20 trees that were larger than 3 inches were cut, but only two were larger than 8 inches.

There were no trees cut down in order to make space for Tiny House Ontario.  A spot was chosen where there was a natural clearing.

It was not just trees and that had to go.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, a lot of what was removed to get through was a swipe through the “prickly pear” (which I think is a sort of a fruitless rubus cane).  There were also a lot of small saplings and trees that were less than 3 inches in diameter, these were sacrificed.  I also covered a lot of leeks, wild lilies, mayflowers, a few trilliums, and a small patch of wild ginseng too.  What I mean is that you cannot buy land which has a low yielding potential for farming, to build on and expect that you will not damage any of the natural features in the process.  It is a pity but it had to be done, if I am to actually enjoy the use of this land.

A nice side effect of the little bit of clearing, is that the new openings will allow two more benefits for me.  Both are because now there is light coming in.  I will be able to add a vegetable garden and solar panels.

While I did my best to be as conscientious as possible, I absolutely caused damage to the forest.   Here is what I did to get it in step by step, with a small slide show for you to see the process.

  • I picked the route of least resistance.
  • I made a path with some bright yellow string.
  • Permit was applied for and attained.
  • John and Leo came in and cut everything within 10 feet of the line (except one hickory which is 8 feet in and makes a narrow spot in the driveway).  The photo of me with my chainsaw is taken on a former property when I lost a half dozen huge cedars to a flood.
  • Myself, and my husband cleared the “prickly pear”.
  • Myself, and a few lads cleaned the sticks up with a chipper.
  • The planned driveway and tiny house location were clear to take some (minimal excavation and) gravel.
  • The gravel was brought in load, by load, and flattened by my cousin Kenny’s tractor and accessories.
  • Tiny House Ontario hole was dug and filled with stone, cement was brought in and laid and then it was built.
  • Several final loads of gravel were brought in right up to the Tiny House that I tamped down.
  • The culvert was installed by the road, but not accepted by the county (twice so far), so I do not have an entry permit as of yet.

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Categories: Building code, Environmentalism, Forest, Nature, Off Grid, Simple living, Tiny House Ontario | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Trouble with Driveways

  1. Laura where is the property? How many acres did you get? Do you know of any others?

    • Kingston Ontario area.

      I don’t off hand.

      If you don’t mind being remote, http://www.thelandstore.ca/ is the place to go for cheap very far off bits.

      Local farmers are your best bet to check for small parcels. You want to be sure that you have neighbours that are great too because we alternate builders (can’t we all) can get into a lot of trouble with only one awful neighbour.

      Good luck and keep me posted!

      xo L

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