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How To Remove Grass Around Fruit Trees

Grass around your fruit trees can go well in your landscape, but the competition for nutrients is difficult. You might also worry about the health of the trees if you remove the grass. We have gathered the steps on how to remove the grass around your fruit trees safely.

A natural way to remove the grass is by digging it by hand. It is best to use non-mechanical tools to avoid hurting the tree roots. Removing the grass using chemical herbicides is also effective but not advisable, because some herbicides could harm the trees.

Once you have pulled out the grass, discourage regrowth by adding organic mulch and covering around the tree. The process of eradicating the grass takes effort, but the rewards afterward will be fruitful. Read along to learn how you keep grass away from the fruit trees. 

Adding soil around a tree, How To Remove Grass Around Fruit Trees

How Do You Get Rid Of Grass Under Fruit Trees?

Grass growing around the base of a fruit tree might be a delight to your eyes. However, the trees will compete with grass for water, nutrients, and sunlight essential for growth due to their varying needs.

The fibrous root system of grass effectively removes the nutrients and water from the soil. Young and faltering trees will have difficulty growing when surrounded by grass.

Also, unmowed grass around the tree can create a rodent habitat during the cold season. The rodents will eat the tree bark, causing its demise. 

With the problems you may encounter, you must know how to manage grass and vegetation around the tree. Continue reading for viable solutions you can follow.

1. Natural Removal

You can preserve the fruit tree when removing the grass by natural means. Although this solution requires manual labor and getting your hands dirty, you can preserve the health of the trees. 

The first thing to do is dig the patches of grass by hand. You remove the top layer of grass and take out at least 1 to 2 inches below the soil. There are also sods to remove. Use dethatchers or trowels that are suitable for grass removal around trees.

Using mechanical tools like mowers, tillers, or string-trimmers can cut the roots or bark and hurt the tree. Cuts in roots can stunt the growth, while damaged bark going could kill the tree. 

Mowing the lawn using a red grass cutter

2. Using Chemicals

The fastest way to keep grass away from the tree is through chemical means. When buying the herbicide, you should check if it is safe for fruit trees. Below are two types of herbicides to get rid of the grass. 

Liquid Herbicide

An herbicide that will not harm your tree is glyphosate or Roundup brand. Before you use it, you can read the label to learn if your tree is sensitive to the herbicide. Follow the instructions well so you can effectively remove the grass.

Before you apply a liquid-type of herbicide:

  1. Cover the tree with cardboard.
  2. Spray the herbicide evenly around the tree.
  3. Water the soil after spraying.

Roundup has a spray nozzle that allows you to spray the intended spots. Aim the spray on the tree's base or directly on the grass. Avoid spraying on seedlings, leaves, and bark.

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Granular Herbicide

If you choose a granular pre-emergent herbicide, keep it at least 1 foot away from the tree trunk. Examples of this type are Casoron or trifluralin/Preen.

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Other herbicides you can buy are Flumioxazin and Napropamide. 

After choosing the herbicide, check the weather on the day you apply it. A sunny and wind-free day is best. Rain and wind can take the chemicals to places you do not need them.

3. Vinegar

Instead of using herbicides, a natural option is to spray vinegar directly on grass. You can mix a small amount of liquid soap for a thick consistency. However, it is not a permanent solution because it does not kill the roots.

4. Edging Around The Tree

Edging does not only protect your tree from invasive grass but also adds design to the landscape. 

Here are some benefits of edging:

  • Maintains tree shape and form
  • Stops tree from sprawling out
  • Protects the tree trunk from weeds, animals, and mechanical damage (e.g., mowing)

You can use stone, brick, concrete, pine, or rocks as edging around the trees.

Brown mulch around a tree

Stone effectively protects your trees from weeds because it is difficult to penetrate. Brick, concrete, and rocks are inexpensive and very customizable. You can choose pine if you want something related to nature, but it is not a strong material. 

It is not enough that you remove grass. You must prevent it from coming back. 

After you have dug the grass, add a thick layer of mulch. Mulching is the best way to discourage the growth of grass and weeds in your garden. The mulch works by preventing sunlight exposure to the soil where grass can thrive.

Put mulch on the same radius of the tree's canopy. Some materials you can use as mulch include the following:

  • Chopped fallen leaves
  • Compost
  • Grass clippings
  • Manure (fully composted)
  • Straw
  • Wood chips

The thickness of the mulch you put should be at least 3 to 4 inches. If too many weeds are growing, 8 inches of mulch will help. After its full decomposition, you will need to add mulch again so that grass will not grow.

You can add mulch directly in the soil or over a weed barrier cloth. The cloth creates a stronger blockade against the grass by blocking sunlight.

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Instead of fabric, you can also use cardboard or newspaper. 

Should You Mow To Stop Grass Growing Around Trees?

Mowing is an easier way to remove grass without using much effort. It can help get rid of the grass, but you still need to add mulch or protective covering to the soil. 

When using a mower, be careful when removing the grass around the tree. If you are mowing too close, you will cut and damage the bark or roots of the tree. If that's the case, you can kill the plant. 

Mowing the lawn using a lawn mower

You can still mow safely around the tree with the following tips:

  • Clear away the debris around the tree. 
  • Use a string trimmer to remove grass from little and hard-to-reach spots. 
  • Mow at least 3 to 5 feet away from the tree trunk. Remove grass that is closer to the tree by hand.
  • Adjust the height of your mower to the highest setting. In this way, the blade is not too close to the ground.
  • Place a physical root barrier around the tree. Observe the minimum safe distance using a formula.

Check out this related post on How To Keep Grass From Sticking To Lawn Mower Wheels.

What Can You Plant Under Fruit Trees Instead Of Grass?

Mowing the lawn using a green lawn mower

If grass is not a good companion for fruit trees, there are plants you can choose to add to the beauty of your trees.

The right plants you plant under the tree can give you the following benefits:

  • Creation of groundcover to maintain moisture levels of the soil
  • Promotes fertility because of the accumulation of nutrients
  • Repels pests and attracts beneficial pollinators

Companion Plants

The companion plants can help the trees maximize yields.

To achieve the symbiotic relationship, you should check which plants you can grow with your existing fruit trees. The plants should not be invasive to the tree. Some things to consider are soil types, weather conditions, and sun exposure. 

Here are some plants to grow under any fruit tree:

  • Bee balm/Monarda
  • Bergamot
  • Buckwheat
  • Chives
  • Comfrey
  • Cow parsley
  • Dill

Guild Plants

There are also ground covers or guild plants as a "living" mulch under the trees. Once established, you can save water, improve the soil, and benefit from the food crops.

Here are some guild plants you can choose:

  • Clover
  • Cucumbers
  • Melons
  • Nasturtium
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Pumpkins
  • Rhubarbs
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes

You can have beauty and abundance in your garden with the right plants for your fruit trees.

In Summary

Adding soil around a tree

Your fruit trees cannot flourish if there is grass around it. Grass will compete with the trees for nutrients. The viable solutions are removing grass by hand, spraying herbicide or vinegar, and edging around the tree. 

After removing the grass, you should cover the soil with mulch or a weed barrier fabric to minimize grass growth. Instead of grass, there are companion and guild plants you can plant under the fruit trees to foster growth.

Discover more about gardening from these posts:

15 Fruit Trees With Non-Invasive Roots

How Long Can Grass Seed Stay Dormant