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  • Orchard planning - weed control

    I’m planning to put ~25 trees in ground. The area was cleared a couple months ago and will not be suitable for grass - can’t get the mower up the terraces that segregate the future orchard from the lawn area.

    I’m looking for recommendations and experience regarding weed control without chemicals. For now I have a layer of mulch from the trees that were downed, but I already have a weed festival going on. I have seen some gardens with black plastic or weed mat. What works for you? Advantages and disadvantages? Lessons learned? Thanks in advance for your advice.
    Mike
    Cobb County GA, 7b
    Wishlist: Bornholm/Nexöe, Cavaliere, Zaffiro

  • #2
    I use cardboard and mulch over it. In any case the mulch will eventually sprout weeds, but with the plastic or fabric, although it’s good at keeping things growing up, weeds seem to more readily grow down into it, then it’s compromised and a bit of a mess. I’m not against these products, but cardboard works really great and is free, just make sure you remove tape (amazon tape I don’t worry with). I use any cardboard that isn’t glossy or waxed and the glossy paper can often be torn off. Thick cardboard is better but I may layer 3x of thinner type. Pine straw is great mulch although it sounds like you have plenty of mulch
    7B North of Raleigh, NC
    Wishlist: Smith, Adriatic JH, LSU Champagne, Malta Black

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    • #3
      You need to show some photos.

      Weeds/Grass is part of the garden life. You'll have to manage it, not to fight it.

      Most garden center has the black landscape cover. The thick one is weed block and has been very effective. But to me, it does not look in front yard. I'm perfectly fine to use away from front yard. Some people are fine with it.

      I pile the rocks I dug out from my garden and yard. I also keep a perimeter free of weeds/grass. Then I ran my garden lawnmower to clean the path once a month or so. It has worked well for me and I like the look. Wood chip mulch works too.

      Attached Files
      Princeton, New Jersey, 6B
      flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/red-sun/albums
      http://growingfruit.org/ for all fruits

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      • #4
        The heavy landscape fabric will work (DeWitt Pro 5), but might retain too much heat and moisture in the soil. I think your best option is mulched rings around each tree (don't pile mulch up against the trunks) snd invest in a light weight push mower for dealing with the weeds between the trees.
        “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
        – Source Unknown
        MA 5b/6a

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        • #5
          Weedeater
          CJ in Memphis 7b/8a….tight eyes, nonsplitters...Pons figs, French figs, Mario figs & tasty Cali seedlings!

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          • #6
            3 years ago I re-tiled my bathroom and had some extra cement boards left over. Been working perfectly for weed control where I have a few nursery pots.

            I’d get some high quality geotextile fabic and put pine needle mulch on top if available. Regular wood and bark mulch is gonna break down and turn into the perfect growing medium for weeds if you use that.
            Anthony- Fig Finder of Los Angeles

            Instagram

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            • #7
              Here are a pair of photos of the general area in my backyard. The first is the planned fig area, mostly deweeded and mulched. The second shows, in the foreground, an adjoining area that has not been deweeded or mulched yet (and some other fruit trees). I’m thinking of pulling up all the mulch and putting down …. something.



              Attached Files
              Mike
              Cobb County GA, 7b
              Wishlist: Bornholm/Nexöe, Cavaliere, Zaffiro

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              • Wunga
                Wunga commented
                Editing a comment
                I get free plastic sheets from work. I lay down cardboard. Then the plastic. Then 1" rock with pea gravel. Looks good and 99% weed free. Where the weeds find a hole, I salt that hole. I leave a 1 to 2 foot ring around trees to be able to water them so i still need to weed but much easier.

              • FIGSinGA
                FIGSinGA commented
                Editing a comment
                Wunga thank you.

              • Wunga
                Wunga commented
                Editing a comment
                I would experiment with plants that might cancel the weeds like ground morning glory or others but that wouldnt be my primary. Takes too long to find out. Cardboard cuts out the sun and plastic cuts off the water so it has worked for
                me. Maybe expensive fabric works but I used cheap stuff and was useless.

            • #8
              I planted a mix of bunch type grass and legumes. That way they won't spread (at least that's the idea). I now and/or weed eat around everything a couple times a month.
              Travis - Zone 5a, Central WI
              Wish list - Verdolino

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              • #9
                Planting a short growing dense grass that doesnt need mowing may be a good idea. It would help with weed control. Some orchards here in the southeastern USA do this.
                7b.. Wish list figs.. #1.Verdalino, #2.Figoin.....

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                • #10
                  I recycle all the cardboard from my office and home. Strip the tape and plastics. Place with overlap. Use free wood chips from tree companies or chipdrop.com and put in down 4-6" deep. Add more as needed. The crab grass and such does pop up but is easy to pull in the mulch. I may order a flamethrower for fun, when the chips are a little damp.
                  N. GA 7B
                  UPDATED! Wish list: CDD Mutante, Paratjal Rimada, any Swiss figs other than PT, perennial flower bulbs/rhizomes.

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                  • FIGSinGA
                    FIGSinGA commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Can I help with the flame thrower?

                • #11
                  Sow Dutch white clover in the fall. It doesn’t really get high enough to need mowing but weeds will get in there and they can get tall
                  North Georgia 7b
                  Wishlist: Smith

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                  • #12
                    I have 12 in-ground trees, I'm using a hoe for weeding, It takes maybe 5...10 minutes to process all the area. This summer I processed twice.
                    Estonia, Zone 5 Wish List 2023 Improved Celeste-Florea-Red Lebanese Bekaa Valley-Teramo-Long Yellow-Iranian Candy-De Tres Esplets-Malta Black-Salem Dark-Olympian-Smith-Green Michurinska + Any tasty super early fig

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                    • #13
                      Hit the weeds early and often. I mulch - blthick. Like 4 inches minimum and there are very few under my fig tree. Other areas with thinner mulch get some weeds but a shot of round up clears them. Again, control them before they get out of control. It doesn't take much work, especially if done early and often.
                      NNJ 6B
                      Wishlist: Colar d'Albatera, Mary Magdalene's and the Virgin Mary's Fig, Red Lebanese BV

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                      • #14
                        In one orchard I use Lumite blue line ground cover, works very good, only have to pull weeds from around the plants trunk once a month. In my other orchard I use wood chips. Weeding is minimal as I maintain 4-6 inches. Have to add chips every couple months as they decompose rather quickly.
                        https://www.instagram.com/p/CSY80G8A..._web_copy_link
                        Attached Files

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                        • Sulev
                          Sulev commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Nice weather station!

                        • WIFigger
                          WIFigger commented
                          Editing a comment
                          That's a great looking orchard!

                      • #15
                        My figs bed, just hoed twice this year. As I'm using watermelons and melons as companion plants for figs, it would be tricky to hoe third time, but luckily the weeds are pretty much suppressed by past drought.

                        The tarp is there for protecting tomatoes and melons from excess rain (tomatoes for disease control, melons for preventing dilution of sugars), my figs are without any berries, but tarp can prevent fig splitting, dilution and spoiling also.

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                        Estonia, Zone 5 Wish List 2023 Improved Celeste-Florea-Red Lebanese Bekaa Valley-Teramo-Long Yellow-Iranian Candy-De Tres Esplets-Malta Black-Salem Dark-Olympian-Smith-Green Michurinska + Any tasty super early fig

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                        • #16
                          I realize you said it wouldnt be good for grass. But a short low growing grass will help with excess moisture control some. And wont need mowing. Even a taller grass at 6 inches tall wouldnt have to be mowed. But if you dont have fire ants golore like we do here.""" A layer of greenhouse weed preventor""". Not landscaping cloth but the good stuff that actually prevents grass and weeds from growing very well. And a layer of gravel over that. We have a limestone yard about 3 miles from the house here so thats perfect for me. Figs love the limestine as a mulch. It absorbs heat but doesnt get too hot. And keeps the ground warm without drying out too fast on the surface. But these are all just ideas. You can go to your local farmer Co-Op and talk to them and they should be able to give great detailed answers and ideas to choose from. If not find a local orchard and talk to the owners. They should be able to give answera to questions you may not even think to ask.
                          7b.. Wish list figs.. #1.Verdalino, #2.Figoin.....

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                          • #17
                            Either way I am very interested and will love to see what you do and how it plays out. Like before pics . during setup pics and then after done pics. Please. I have 1 acre square and am planning my own orchard on about 1/16th acre to start with maybe 1/8th total. Then add from there. Gotta grow a bunch french marigolds and plenty of neem tree seeds out and compost the leaves and stuff into the ground to kill and repell root knot nematodes. B4 planting my trees in ground. And keep adding compost containing neem leaves and french marigold plants . both kill/repell nematodes. Hopefully it works as well as all the farming vidoes Ive seen shows it to work. The french marigold has been proven most effective type of marigold.(Im 98 %sure its the french type) The roots put off a substance that is toxic to nematodes and then tilling the whole plants into the ground adds more of that and put nutrients back in the soil. Have you grown fig trees in ground in your area? Or tested your soil? I plan on testing my soil and prepping it before my trees go in ground. Have a great day .
                            7b.. Wish list figs.. #1.Verdalino, #2.Figoin.....

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                            • FIGSinGA
                              FIGSinGA commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Thanks for the detailed suggestions. I’ll post again once I’ve chosen and implemented a method.

                          • #18
                            When i mow my lawn i rake the grass clippings around my fig trees. around 4 inches thick and it usually keeps most weeds at bay. the grass does compact down after rains so sometime i have to fluff up the grass clippings
                            Independence Louisiana Zone 8B

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                            • #19
                              Hi! I live in zone 7a (Virginia). Two years ago, I've laid down black fabric and then planted my figs. They seem to love the heat and moisture the fabric provides,along with minimal weeding for me. Mulch and weeds seem to attract mice and rabbits. I highly recommend good quality black fabric.

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