The Knife Edge is a long narrow ridge that runs north and south along the eastern edge of our property.
This is a drone photo of the northern, flatter part of the ridge that we call the ‘Knife Edge Prairie’. The narrower ridge leading off (south) to the right is the ‘Knife Edge Point’.
Here’s another drone photo showing the Knife Edge Point with the steep south-facing point at the end. The ridges on the steep west-facing slope are old cow paths. The land north of this was all grazing land when it was a dairy farm, so this may have been the cows’ route home to the barn.
This is an aerial photo of our land with the Knife Edge marked.
Photos and stories of our restoration work on the Knife Edge from each year:
2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000
The Knife Edge Prairie is broad and flat, and was never plowed. When we first saw it, in 2000, there was a small open area with dry prairie plants, and the rest was a tangle of brush and small trees. This was taken after we’d mowed a path, but before we had done any restoration – probably in the summer of 2000.
From then on we mowed as much of the area as we could – usually once a year, in the early spring. We mowed under and around all the small trees. Some years we would mow out a little farther at the edges – enlarging the prairie area. Here’s a photo of that same area in August 2015.
In the fall of 2017 we decided to cut down the small trees that were sprinkled through the prairie. Most were Black Cherry and Apple. That winter, a friend did more cutting for us, taking down many of the trees that were invading from the edges. Now the prairie is open all the way out to a circle of old, open-grown oaks.
This was taken in December 2017, after Mike and I had finished cutting and removing the trees in the middle.
September 2020 – the prairie has recovered from removal of the trees.
Just south of the prairie the ridge narrows and the path runs along the top. Here are 3 views from that spot, looking south. The first photo was taken in April 2003, just before we mowed a path. The second photo is from a few days later, after we had mowed the path, and the third is from June of 2022. The path is now well established, and we’re slowly working to clear brush and small trees west of the path and down the west-facing slope.
Farther south along the path the slopes on both sides get very steep. The east-facing slope belongs to our neighbor and has thick woods with Burr Oak, Elm, Black Walnut, Aspen, and Hackberry. The top and the west-facing slope are ours, and have prairie plants growing under birches and other invading trees. (This is looking south, so the path and the slope on the right are ours.)
Here are before and after photos of my work on the west-facing slope – looking north – back toward the Knife Edge Prairie. I’ve killed the invading birches, and cut and treated honeysuckle, buckthorn, and prickly ash.
To the south the ridge ends in a steep, rocky point with big patches of bare sand. These photos show the view looking over and down the point, before and after clearing birches and other brush.
The point slopes down into an open woods of birch, aspen, walnut and oak. I’m cutting brush and small trees to restore the savanna. Prairie/savanna plants grow under the trees.
Click Here for a list of all the native plants I’ve found growing on the Knife Edge prairie and savanna.