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When we walk into a forest, we don’t have to know the name of a single tree to see that the plants and trees have various heights, occupying different levels and niches in the forest. Here is a good visual and short definitions to help you identify them the next time you walk in a park.
1. Canopy (large fruit and nut trees)
2. Low Tree Layer (dwarf fruit trees)
3. Shrub layer (currents and berries)
4. Herbaceous (comfreys, beets, herbs)
5. Rhyzosphere (root vegetables)
6. Soil Surface (ground cover, eg, strawberry, etc.)
7. Vertical Layers (climbers, vines)
In order for there to be any amount of stability in an eco-system there must be in existence at least 3 layers. If there are not at least 3 layers present, “weeds” will grow to fill the void. There are herbaceous ‘weeds”, grass “weeds”, “weed” trees, and “weedy” vines. If you are missing a layer the land will try to fill it. The less layers, the more weeds and more maintenance… the more layers we incorporate into our habitats the less maintenance there is. In fact, a healthy eco-system will not require any maintenance (besides harvesting and honing some aesthetic choices in the landscape), produces no waste to export or pollute, and becomes more productive and fertile each year.