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planting a meadow under apple orchard?

Posted by klbvet z5NY (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 4, 04 at 20:55

I have a dozen or so semi=dwarf Macoun apple trees adjacent to my perrenial border. I have been thinking about turning the grass and weeds under the trees into something nicer.
I have thought about naturalizing some bulbs, daffadils, snowdrops, encouraging my already rampant for-get-me=nots and corydalis(rampant in other parts of the garden, but not here).
What other suggestions does anyone have?
Will I need to do anything special to the soil, etc. Reading some of the posts, I am a little worried about the existing weeds. We have that awful sticky weed. If we keep the area under the trees mown, there are obviously fewer weeds, but its a bit boring.
Thanks for any help and ideas

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: planting a meadow under apple orchard?

one of the ways u keep bugs and such out of ur apples is to keep undertree duff down to almost nuthing (ie mowing)

i dont think u can do both.

id love to see it tried tho and prove me wrong :)


RE: planting a meadow under apple orchard?

David Granatstein at the WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center has done some research into alternative cover crops for orchards. A web page covering the work is at

Some orchardists have also begun commercially growing lavender in their orchards, getting two crops off the same piece of land.

Here is a link that might be useful: Orchard Floor Management

RE: planting a meadow under apple orchard?

oh pasadena, now that i like

maybe even 3-4 diff crops.

keeping it under control, making sure that the plants are friendly to eachother and maybe even beneficial.

if u dont mind, im gonna steal that idea :)


RE: planting a meadow under apple orchard?

i had a friend with a small orchard and she planted no-mow grass under her trees. its a mix of slow growing fescues - very pretty. she didnt quite the prep the site as well as is required for the slow growing grass so she still has some weeds coming in but it still looks nice. a mix can be obtained from prairie nursery, prairie moon nursery or ion exchange.

RE: planting a meadow under apple orchard?

Look for savanna plants - Places in the prairie where oak savanna occurred created a similar situation - sun in early and late day and shade in mid day - so the most sun tolerant woodland plants and the most shade tolerant prairie plants. A company here in IL has a catalog with charts that give ranges of sun tolerance, The Natural Garden in St. Charles, IL. One way to kill the stuff there is to spread newspapers in the fall - section by section, spray with water to keep in place, then another layer covering the seams. Cover it all with mulch. By spring, the plants are dead and the newspaper is mostly biodegraded or soft enough to plant through. Or if it is not, move the mulch over, cut an x in the paper with a serrated knife, fold the corners under, plant, remulch. That treatment can kill established turf grass and most anything else. If weeds are taller than that, mow first, then newspaper and mulch.

RE: planting a meadow under apple orchard?

Our home has two mature apple trees that produced a giant crop last year. I didn't have the time or means to deal with it. So I piled all the bushels of windfalls around the trees (a good 1 foot deep) and piled leaves on top to hide it from the city inspectors. This summer it looks like a beautiful compost circle around each tree. Now the trees hardly had fruit this year which might be due to the frozen apple glacier on their roots! Outside of that circle we have a lot of violets. Violets are consider a problem for lawns but I like them. They don't grow real tall. They don't mind being mowed. The flowers are pretty. That orchard Floor Management site had some good photos. The rye grass planting looked pretty impressive for keeping out weeds. Wonder if you could plant rye the first year like that site shows to eliminate weeds, and then introduce some more attractive prairie plants mixed with rye in later years. Just an idea

RE: planting a meadow under apple orchard?

flowerkitty - its normal for apple trees to alternate every other year with a bounty crop.... so next year you should get a another big crop.

RE: planting a meadow under apple orchard?

I came across this thread doing a search on the subject.
It's something I'd like to try in my orchard, at least part of it.

For some reason I can't open any of the documents in "Orchard floor management"

We've mowed regularly for the past decade. Where we don't, there's pretty much
jungle: Brambles, thistles, spring onions, bedstraw, horseweed, you name it,
and very buggy!

Klbvet, if you're still in touch, what did you end up doing
with yours?

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