[nafex] mulching trees

Jay Cutts orders at cuttsreviews.com
Tue May 19 20:44:03 EDT 2015


Here's a dilemma I've been wrestling with for years. I'm at 7000 feet in 
NM. I have a number of rather small trees planted out in a field. There 
is a very invasive grass that grows in the field - I think it's Western 
Wheat grass - that sends out underground runners for 4 or 5 feet.

I don't know how to protect the soil immediately under the tree and then 
out under the drip line and a little further. In some places I've put 
down two layers of weed barrier, covering maybe a circle with a diameter 
of 4-5 feet. It does keep the grass from coming through but the grass 
roots are still pervasive in the covered area. After a while, the 
grasses do poke through the weed barrier.

I'd prefer to have a nice circle of organic mulch that would break down 
in that area but then the grass goes completely wild, growing right 
through the mulch.

I'm assuming that letting the grass grow under the tree is bad. I guess 
it will use up nutrients and just feels like it's choking the tree out.

I'm wondering if there is something I can plant under the trees that 
would outcompete the weedy grass. The weed grass doesn't do as well if 
it gets shaded out (the trees are too small to create shade) though it 
will still spread.

If I planted something like alfalfa, could I plant it right up to the 
base of a young tree? If I leave the area immediately under the tree 
bare or mulched, the grass will come in.

We only get 18 inches of rain a year, so anything that is planted for a 
cover crop is going to have survive on that or it will be stealing water 
from the tree.

Another issue is that the soft, mulched and watered area around the base 
of the trees is perfect for attracting gophers. I've had gophers down a 
5 year old tree by gnawing off the base in the winter. Who knows how 
much other damage they're doing underground to the tree roots. So the 
nicer I make the soil around the trees, the more gopher damage I have. Help!



Jay Cutts
Director, Cutts Graduate Reviews
Lead Author, Barron's MCAT Prep Book
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