Keep the grass and weeds away

swineinsanity(8)June 6, 2006

Yesterday I pulled up the grass around my fruit trees to copy Martha Stewart and plant bulbs around them. This way in the spring I have a spectacular bulb show and the harvest time it will be all died back.

My question is How do I keep the grass and weeds from returning? I thought about newspaper but didn't want to hurt or prevent blooming of the bulbs. I organic garden. I thought about mulch but honestly I think mulch is a waste. Will composting it heavy replace it? I thought about a cover crop, but I really don't want to. What do you think?

Thank you in advance.


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Organic mulch is not a waste. It conserves moisture, improves soil tilth, prevents weeds, yadda yadda yadda.

You don't plant most spring blooming bulbs until fall anyway. Mulch.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 12:35PM
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Mulch is the best thing that ever happened to MY soil! That's why forest soil is good.... trees are self mulching.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 12:43PM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

Mulch is the best thing that you can do for almost any plant or tree. It keeps weeds down, retains moisture, breaks down to improve soil, and regulates fluctuations in soil temperature.

Why do you say it's a waste?

Try shredded leaves.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 12:57PM
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Hi Thanks for your replys. Glad mulch worked for you. For me it was a waste. Weeds grew like mad anyways. Grew as if there was no mulch at all. I gave up on it. I also heard it isn't good for the mulch to get into your soil because it robs the soil of nitrogen or something like that so because of those 2 reasons I don't use it. I thought about cocoa mulch, but it is expensive and I have a dog.
I don't have many leaves right now. The leaves I had I let compost into the ground around the tree it fell from. Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 1:26PM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

1) if the mulch isn't thick enough, then it won't work.

2) It won't rob the soil of nitrogen. Lay it on the soil, fertilize as usual.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 1:28PM
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I put it on thick. Didn't work. I gave up. From what the Local Gardening guy said when you add a plant you have to becareful to move the mulch out of the way because if you accidently get it in the soil you will rob the soil of a nutrient or 2. Thought I heard Nitrogen. I will continue to investigate different ways of kicking weeds roots out of my yard. I may just put thick compost or composted goat bedding with goat poop. I don't know. Thanks!"

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 1:35PM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

The whole "robbing" nitrogen thing is an old wives tale that has long been refuted. You would have to till it in to see any effect, and many dispute even that notion. I use mulches of all sorts on many types of plants, as well as in the veggie garden and have NEVER had a nitrogen deficiency.

I've also never seen it not help with weeds. It could be that you had persistent weed seeds in the soil before putting down mulch. Once the weeds have sprouted and been removed, the mulch keeps new seeds that blow/fall on the bed from sprouting. That is a long-term solution.

I should add that since organic mulches improve soil tilth over time, it makes removing weeds that do appear much easier!

Newspaper is just another form of mulch. It's just processed wood. It will be broken down and incorporated into the soil by micro organisms and worms. Again- no nitrogen issue will result. It will suppress weeds until it breaks down, and could cause an issue for some bulbs. However, it does disintegrate fairly quickly. It's a temporary barrier. I use it, or cardboard, as the bottom layer for new beds (leaves on that, then soil, or lasagna).

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 1:58PM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

Compost is not a good mulch alternative, IMO. Weed seeds that fall in the bed will sprout in compost. It doesn't regulate moisture like other mulches. It dries out and causes other issues.

Don't get me wrong- I use compost like crazy- just not as a mulch in itself. Compost is a soil amendment and quickly incorporates into the soil. It's the best worm food ever, and so does not stay on the soil surface very long.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 2:48PM
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I agree with you. It could be weed seeds that have already taken. I didn't consider that. My mom in law has straw from goat bedding that she leaves to naturally compost. I am considering using that for a mulch which would also relieve her from it in her acres. Beings it has poo that would help with my new trees. We just planted them in febuary so they are going though the process of establishing. Thanks for the info about the nitrogen thing. I am just very careful with my new planted trees. We planted 11 fruit trees and 5 bramble vines. Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 4:13PM
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swineinsanity, I put bulbs out last fall. I used newspaper covered with leaves as a mulch. I probly had a good 4-5 inches of shredded leaves on top.

My bulbs were able to push up through it and the few weeds that I got pulled up easily.

I do agree with you though about wood mulch. It does not do much for weed prevention. At least not for me.

Good luck, those bulbs will be beautiful next spring.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 9:40PM
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Hi Brighteyes.
Thank you for responding. I will try newspaper. Guess with the rain it would moisten it. How many sheets did you use of newspaper. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 8:50AM
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I went 3-5 sheets with the edges overlapping. You are gonna want something to cover it though. The compost would work well.

When I put my paper down I had the hose nearby and sprayed as I went, it only takes a little breeze to make you go chasing dry paper!

just make sure after you put the paper down you soak it really good(or put it out right before it calls for rain). That will give it a good start at breaking down.

Show pics next spring, sounds like it will be beautiful


    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 9:34PM
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Hi! Thanks for the info. I will try using newspaper. I had to laugh with the mental picture of chasing the paper in the wind. Sorry. Gave me a good mental picture. I will if I have a camera try to post a pic next spring. Hoping to get a digital. I appreciate your help.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 9:58PM
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Cheryl, your mental picture was probly pretty close to what the neighbors saw! SO you should have had a good laugh, it was not a pretty sight.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 10:41PM
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I have had stuff like that happen to me too. That is why I got the mental picture of it. Brings back my own memories. Was raining today so I took the sunday paper and lined my crabapple tree soil radius. The ads stunk. No good savings. Doing this makes the whole newspaper not be a waste of money and time. I put compost on it. Looks awesome. Felt great to use what I have been stiring for over a year. Also felt good to not have to spend money on mulch. Kinda looks like the bagged mulch in a way and I notice, since I don't have to pay for it, I tend to spread it on thicker. Thank you again for the advice and idea about using this. Fruit trees aren't cheap and I wanted to hear how it worked for someone else before trying it. Bulbs can get pricy too.
I was wondering if a neighbor was watching me work, it would make a good teaching time for thier kids about how you can turn food waste, grass clippings etc into something productive. My boys were watching me work out in the rain and when I got in they had questions and it became a learning time for them. My 5 year old though I don't think understood totally, but as he sees the full effect, maybe it will make more sense to him.

Thank you again,

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 3:20PM
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west_texas_peg(8a West Cen TX)

When I use newspapers to create a bed, I put my newspapers together in the house (I do 10 to 12 pages/group). I then put my papers in my wheelbarrow and begin to fill it with water. I soak them for a bit and then pick up one set at at time, put some soil, coffee grounds, alfatha meal, compost, then mulch (most of the time it is the pine bark from Walmart but if I have enough I use grass clippings). We have a grinder and create our own mulch most of the times (have trained the neighbors to bring their limbs, etc.) but alas it is in need of repairs. My garden paths are covered with mulch we made from a large pile left by our backdoor neighbor when he trimmed his pecan trees.

Mulch lowers the soil temps and it helps to keep soil moist....great for us in Texas where we are in the 100's and in a drought! I have nearly covered most of our backyard with grass clippings from a neighbor's yard. Our yard was 'let go' while my mother-in-law was in the rest home...most of her plants died from lack of water and drought conditions. The weeds are the only things that thrived with careless weeds taller than me. It has taken time but we nearly have them under control; my husband can not believe what a difference the mulching has made. I carry an old kitchen knife with me in the yard and when I spot a weed, it is a goner!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 11:22PM
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username_5(banned for no reason)

To keep grass away from the tree, you need a border. Forget mulch, it won't help *at all*

Grass loves a well mulched area, it provides a nice, water retentive place for it to grow.

Get that ugly black plastic border material and dig it into the soil. Then layer newspaper and mulch.

To keep grass away requires an underground barrier and an over the soil barrier. If you have bermuda or any other grass that can grow from clippings, be very careful with the weed whacker or mower to avoid getting clippings inside of the bordered off area.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 1:01AM
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