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Question: Solarizing lawn, should saplings/shrubs be removed?

Posted by njbiology Zone 7(/6b); NJ (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 15, 09 at 13:23

Question: Solarizing lawn, should saplings/shrubs be removed?


I plan on applying 1 mil. thick clear plastic in solarizing my lawn and future garden plots. However, I have a number of small tree saplings and shrubs, all of which are removable; should I relocate them to a different part of the property until next spring, after the plastic has been removed.

I could leave them where they are and extend the plastic coverage short of 2 feet from each sapling's/shrub's trunk (these are new saplings/shrubs that do not have roots that extend beyond 1' from the base.)

The only problem I see with this is a slight loss in benefit where the soil directly around and specific to tree (4 x 4 area) does not get to be treated; and the second issue is that I cannot just lay down a single sheet - I have to subdivide it into multiple cuts to work around the 10 shrubs/trees.

1. Would you recommend that I remove the just recently planted shrubs/saplings and ball-and-burlap their roots and place them in the ground for this year somewhere else out of the way? I want to b&b the roots because I want to be able to remove the plants which, in a few cases have deep tap roots, to assure that they tap root doesn't manage to establish itself this year before I have a chance to put it in its intended place. I have two 5' pawpaw saplings which put forth deep tap roots.

2. Would you recommend I just leave them where they are and not worry about solarizing the soil associated with the holes they have been planted in (for fungus, disease, etc.) since solarizing mostly affects the upper-soil surface and if there are issues in the soil, the deep roots will encounter these unfavorable conditions anyway.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Question: Solarizing lawn, should saplings/shrubs be removed?

Hi Nj, I tried solarizing 2 very weedy areas in my "meadow gardens" last summer with mixed success. From what I understand, solarization works best when 1) the plastic is intact with no holes and sealed all around the edges, and 2) during hot and sunny weather with sull sun exposure, and 3) plastic is laid down after a rain or irrigation so that the area is nice and moist. The wet heat builds up under the plastic and works most efficiently at killing off the weeds and weed seeds.

It might be difficult for you to solarize using a bunch of cut pieces. I would move the small shrubs and trees and cut down any woody weeds first if you want to solarize so that you can spread a large intact piece of plastic.

What worked reasonably well for me was layering paper and then organic materials to smother the existing weeds. This is much easier to work in between the existing plants you want to save. I had pretty good success killing off very weedy sections of the meadow gardens, including some large stumps of Buckthorn which have not resprouted (deprived of light, apparently the stump will die). There are some weeds surfacing this Spring but they are pretty easy to pull, and I will probably continue to layer and smother around the seedlings I've planted (grasses, wildflowers, and some Bayberry) until they become established.

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