How far should lawn be from fruit trees?

usually, there is a patch of ground that is clear from vegetation, around trunks of fruit trees. We are planting some trees and would like to know how much ground to leave clear around apple/cherry/apricot trees. thamks.
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A general guide is to leave as much clear as the spread of the branches~ for the first few years. When they have achieved the size you require then you can let grass grow up to the bole. Take care when strimming not to injure the bark. An exception would be with Cordons that are planted closely and thrive best with clear ground around them. Best Wishes. Brian.

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I was just wondering if the same goes for flowers. Should you not plant flowers around the base of new trees either? Seems I read somewhere it was just grass because there are so many roots so close together that it robs nutrients from the trees.
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Hi tmtresh,

This is in my Agroforestry notes, but don't know where it come from already:
[Agroforestry start]
The ability of plants to withdraw soil moisture and nutrients is strongly associated with the amount of fine roots that they have. Ground vegetation that quickly establishes a dense, shallow, fibrous root system, such as many perennial grasses, competes severely with newly planted trees. Young, establishing trees may be killed by drought stress in thick stands of ground vegetation, but substantial reduction in tree growth is more common than actual mortality. Dense stands of brush may reduce the growth of even established trees.
Once trees overtop and establish deep roots beneath the rooting zone of competing ground vegetation, competition for moisture and light is largely one-sided, with trees reducing understory production, but understory having little effect upon overstory trees.
[Agroforestry start]
This read to me that those fast growing flower will compete with tree as well.
Regards, Wong
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wrote:

I disagree--there should always be a thick layer of mulch around the base of any tree (but it should taper at the root crown so the major root flares are visible above the soil/mulch surface). Mulch reduces competition from grass and weeds, minimizes temperature fluctuation in soil, retains moisture in the root zone, reduces soil compaction, and feeds the soil ecosystem to make for happier roots and thus happier plants.
There are no hard rules for how far out to mulch, but more is better than less and less is better than none (even for mature trees). One rule of thumb I hear a lot is one foot of mulch radius per inch of trunk diameter (measured 4 feet above grade). So, a mature shade tree in a suburban lawn would mean no grass, all mulch. Obviously, this would be unacceptable to many people, so you'll have to compromise as you see fit.
I do agree that young trees need this more than mature ones, and I'd try a lot harder to meet or exceed the above guideline for the first couple of years. But I do not agree that later it will be fine to let grass grow up to the bole. Besides the string trimmer problem, you are still limiting the tree's access to water. This is also one of the reasons you should water (both trees and lawn) less often, more slowly and deeply. Deeper waterings allow the tree roots below the grass to get a drink, and encourage all plants to put roots deeper, which means they are less susceptible to drought.
As to the subsequent post about putting flowers around trees, I think it is fine up to a point. A few specimen plants will not form the dense mat that grass will so more water and air can penetrate to the tree, and you will not be tempted to whack them with the weedeater and inadvertently damage the tree trunks. But I hate to see a tree that is surrounded by such a thick cluster of plants that I can not effectively monitor the condition of the root crown. A problem in this area can lead to total tree failure--not a big concern with fruit trees normally, since they are rarely large enough to damage people or property significantly, but quite scary to think about for a larger specimen.
Good luck,
Keith Babberney ISA Certified Arborist For more info about the International Society of Arboriculture, please visit http://www.isa-arbor.com/home.asp . For consumer info about tree care, visit http://www.treesaregood.com /
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