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So in my imaginary world, in the mid-to-late 2000s a lot of people die off. The reasons for this are unimportant, so I won't include them, but it has no impact on plant and animal life. So, considering a small town (mainly focusing on the strip of road where there's a small department store, a gas station, and your usual small-town accouterments), how long would it take for a small town to become overgrown?

What I mean, more specifically, is how long would it take for most hardier, faster growing plants (ivies and such) to grow over the buildings, and for the road to be broken up by plant roots and moss. I'm guessing these are two very different time scales, but I figure they're both in the same general realm of knowledge.

Assume that negligible human interaction occurs within the time frame, so that the plants are more or less unimpeded. Also, for reference, the story takes place in southwestern Canada, close to the border with the USA (or what used to be the border), so all the flora and fauna that live there are in the story.

I understand that this question likely has no single answer or the answer is a time range, which is kind of what I'm looking for. Even if the answer is a pretty broad estimate, it's totally valid!


marked as duplicate by Separatrix, Chickens are not cows, Mołot, bilbo_pingouin, bukwyrm Feb 19 at 10:24

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    $\begingroup$ I think you need to better define what you are trying to find. Based on the experience with my garden, seed sprouts every year between the tiles and moss is basically a lost battle for me. And a single seed is enough to break the road. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Feb 19 at 6:30
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    $\begingroup$ There's a book and a documentary called The World Without Us that explores this premise. And two other documentary films based on the book, Life After People and Aftermath: Population Zero, if you are interested. $\endgroup$ – Alberto Yagos Feb 19 at 6:48
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    $\begingroup$ I don't have the time to track down specific years just now, but you could probably get a pretty good idea of what the first 30 years would look like by looking up photos of Pripyat, the city closest to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. $\endgroup$ – Dave Sherohman Feb 19 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ Could you be more specific about the outcome? Would the town need to be invisible from aerial survey planes, or just a plant/decay cover of ~75% for any synthetic surface (for whatever reason), or... $\endgroup$ – bukwyrm Feb 19 at 8:57
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks to everyone who commented on this post, I'll definitely look into "The World Without Us" (thanks @AlbertoYagos!). In re-reading my question, I've noticed just how unspecific it is, so I'll definitely rethink it if I need more information. $\endgroup$ – Ballistic Porpoise Feb 19 at 18:30