Behind the house were a bunch of blackberries and other bushes. While I enjoy picking blackberries out the back door, I wanted to do more with the space next spring. Therefore, my step son and wife helped me clear the bushes out.
After chopping down the bushes, the lawnmower was run over the area to cut the stems close to the ground. The cut branches and leaves were left where they were to add organic material.
My first thought was to add cardboard to kill of the existing plants and replant the area in the spring. Unfortunately, after cutting the bushes I noticed there was quite a slope to this area. Since this area has a drop off and is not level, I decided to fill it in with dirt from a hill in the yard. This took quite a few wheel barrow loads; in some spots I needed 8 inches of soil.
When completed I had a slightly sloped terrace. On the back side of the terrace I added some thin trees and branches that I chopped down. This hopefully will stop the soil from eroding before I plant in it. As a side bonus, they should provide extra organic material.
On top of the soil, I layed some cardboard down to kill the weeds. I know there is a thought that cardboard contains chemicals, but a lot of people use this method so I'm going to as well. On top of the cardboard I added about 3 inches of hay. I was able to get the hay from a country and western party my work threw. They were looking to throw in trash and I figured this would be a better use. Hopefully next spring there aren't too much grass seedlings popping up.
It took a few weekends to get this project done for it was a decent size project. Now, the leaves from the trees are adding an additional layer of mulch. My hope is that by next spring I will be planting quite a few plants in the area. All the organic matter will break down and make for very nice soil.