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.
@ @ @ Please forgive my typos as my right hand is injured. @ @ @
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
An exception would be with Cordons that are planted closely and thrive best
with clear ground around them.
Best Wishes. Brian.
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.
This is in my Agroforestry notes, but don't know where it come from
The ability of plants to withdraw soil moisture and nutrients is
associated with the amount of fine roots that they have. Ground
that quickly establishes a dense, shallow, fibrous root system, such
perennial grasses, competes severely with newly planted trees. Young,
establishing trees may be killed by drought stress in thick stands of
vegetation, but substantial reduction in tree growth is more common
actual mortality. Dense stands of brush may reduce the growth of even
Once trees overtop and establish deep roots beneath the rooting zone
competing ground vegetation, competition for moisture and light is
one-sided, with trees reducing understory production, but understory
little effect upon overstory trees.
This read to me that those fast growing flower will compete with tree
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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
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
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