It is important to keep grass and weeds from competing with young trees – they are the biggest competitor for young trees and steal water and fertilizer from new plantings. Try to keep a 2-3′ circle clear of weeds from the base of the trunk. Mulch moderates soil temperature extremes and helps moisture retention, as well as keeps weed growth down. If you are remote, collect and pile leaf litter or other organic material instead of buying and hauling mulch from the store. In fact, organic material is a better mulch than most mulch bought at the store. Store-bought pine bark mulch is large and doesn’t break down. If you are going to buy mulch, make sure that it is small or shredded. Creating a layer of mulch around your newly planted tree can also insulate from cold weather!
Weed mats provide the most reliable protection from weed competition. Below is a photo (left) of a weed mat installed at planting. The weed mat deters any growth around the newly planted tree. When you’re planting on the back forty, it’s not always easy to get to your trees for frequent care. The photo below (right) is the same tree planted on the left. You can easily see how much the weed mat deterred weeds from overcrowding the newly planted tree.
Below is a photo of the same tree after roundup and clearing. Long story short, weed mats save a LOT of time.
We recommend Grow Tubes because you can spray Roundup or other herbicides close to the tree without hitting the stem. If you do not use Grow Tubes, be very careful with herbicide, especially on young trees, because they can absorb it directly through the bark. It only takes a few drops to kill the tree, so apply only when there is no wind, use a colored dye mixed in the herbicide so you can see it being applied, and protect the trunk with a shield or hood on the fertilizer wand.