How And Why To Keep Weeds Away From The Bases Of Your Fruit Trees

If you have apple, peach, pear, cherry or other fruit trees in your backyard, you probably spend all year looking forward to their sweet and juicy harvests. You likely have your trees sprayed and pruned to ensure good fruit production, and you watch them closely for signs of disease. What many fruit tree owners neglect to do, however, is keep the weeds at the bases of their fruit trees under control. Neglecting this step could lead to a reduced crop. Here's a look at the reasons why weed control around fruit trees is important, and how to best keep your weeds at bay.

Why is weed control so important?

A dense growth of weeds tends to attract and hold on to moisture. Moisture enables fungal growth, which makes your tree more susceptible to fungal diseases, such as brown rot and powdery mildew diseases. Keeping weed growth down will keep your tree's bark drier, so you don't have to worry so much about these conditions.

Weeds also leech valuable nutrients out of the soil. If it weren't for the weeds, these nutrients could be utilized by the tree to grow stronger branches and better fruit.

Three ways to keep weeds down.

It is not wise to spray the weeds around your tree with weed killer during the growing season, since these chemicals will find their way into the soil and possibly into your fruit. Instead, rely on these three methods for weed control around your fruit trees:

  • To get existing weeds under control, begin by cutting them back with a trimmer. Get as close to the ground as possible. Then, pull weeds out by hand, focusing on a 2-foot radius around the base of each fruit tree. Weeds are easiest to pull after a heavy rain when the soil is moist.
  • If weed growth is substantial or you have many fruits trees, and you're thus unable to weed thoroughly by hand, trim the weeds back as much as possible. Then in the fall, after all of the fruit has been harvested, spray the weeds with a broad spectrum herbicide. Be very careful not to get the herbicide on the tree itself.
  • After the weeds have been removed, apply a thick, 3–4 inch layer of wood mulch around the base of each tree. This will help deter the weeds from growing back. Add 2–3 more inches of mulch each spring to replace the mulch that breaks down.

Keeping weeds under control is an important part of fruit tree ownership. Follow the steps above, and your trees should stay healthier and more productive for years to come. Continue your online research to continue reading more about weed control.