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Mulching trees to stop grass

Found at: republic.circumlunar.space:70/~johngodlee/posts/2021-09-30-mulching.txt

TITLE: Mulching trees to stop grass growth
DATE: 2021-09-30
AUTHOR: John L. Godlee
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The trees we planted back in February are doing well, but the grass 
has been growing a lot because there aren't any sheep in the field 
anymore. Left unmanaged, the grass would grow very tall and 
possibly impede the growth of the trees. We've had two sprays of 
glyphosate herbicide on the grass around the trees to keep it down, 
but I don't like spraying too much because of the adverse impact it 
might have on the rest of the ecosystem, and the risk that it might 
damage the trees. Also, although the herbicide kills the grass, the 
dead grass doesn't disappear. I wonder what effect this build up of 
dead grass will have on what grows there next year. As a more long 
term solution, I've been mulching around the trees with wood chips. 
This is very labour intensive, but it's clear from observation that 
an application of mulch is much more effective than spraying over 
the long term.

  ![The effects of glyphosate herbicide on the 
grass](https://johngodlee.xyz/img_full/mulching/glyphosate.jpg)

First, the grass has to be cut around the tree, so the mulch will 
sit and not slide off. I've been using long-handled garden shears 
to do this. This is the part of the process which takes the most 
time.

  ![A freshly cut area of grass around a 
tree](https://johngodlee.xyz/img_full/mulching/cut.jpg)

Then, the mulch can be added around the tree. I've been making a 
layer about 2-3 inches thick. It's important that the mulch isn't 
piled up around the tree, because this can encourage fungal 
diseases at the base of the tree.

  ![An application of mulch around a 
tree](https://johngodlee.xyz/img_full/mulching/mulch.jpg)

I've been noting down on my new stem map which trees have been 
mulched, so I can see whether it decreases mortality over the next 
few years.

Using the Kawasaki Mule to transport the wood chips has greatly 
reduced the amount of labour, as it can drive down the rows of 
trees, which are only 2.5 m apart.

  ![Wood chips in the back of the 
Mule](https://johngodlee.xyz/img_full/mulching/mule.jpg)


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