How do you control White Clover around your Fruit Trees? Apple and peach trees. Clover seems invasive. When I spray when clover is in bloom the bees get it


Before responding, I feel that I should apologize to @tennessean for having inadvertently derailed his thread. Not sure how that happened, hopefully we’ll get back on topic eventually.

Like I said, Alan, I understand where you’re coming from, and I’m not unaware of the difficulties of growing peaches in the Northeast.

Respectfully, though, I think you’re being overly narrow in the way that you define “satisfactory success” with unsprayed peach trees and overly broad in the way that you talk about “the humid region.”

On the first point, different people may be satisfied with different things. The quality of fruit and consistency of harvest that you and Olpea need to satisfy your clients and customers and keep your businesses going may be very different from what I may need to satisfy myself as a hobby grower/gardener (which is what I am, and what many other members of the forum are, too). And of course, what I find worthwhile as a gardener may be very different from what other gardeners might find worthwhile.

On the second point, while it may be useful on one level to distinguish between humid and arid growing regions, it goes without saying that those are very broad categories and that the conditions Olpea (for example) is dealing with in his part of the Midwest are significantly different from those that I am dealing in my part of New England (for instance). Even within New England (for instance), the growing conditions where I live in Western Mass are significantly different from the conditions where my grandparents lived in New Hampshire, with their part of NH having significantly colder winters, shorter growing season, sandier and more acidic soil, etc. This is not to say that I think that I somehow live in a magical peach-growing region (I don’t), it’s just to say that it seems to me that talking about “the humid region” may be painting with too broad a brush.

What I’m trying to say is that in making our own decisions, we need to consider our own particular situations. For me, the calculation looks like this.

A. My wife wants to grow a peach tree.

B. I am aware that it can be difficult to grow peaches in this area, particularly if you don’t spray them.

C. I have concluded that spraying trees is not a good option for me for a variety of reasons, including:

Proximity to our house. We have a small yard, so any tree that I plant will necessarily be within twenty feet of our house if not significantly closer. Due to family health concerns which I am not going to go into here, spraying that close to our living area would be a non-starter.

Proximity to neighbors’ houses. Any tree that I plant will be within fifty feet (if not significantly less) of one or more of our neighbors’ houses, several of whom might reasonably object to my spraying them. (Again, health concerns that I am not going to go into here.) Due to my desire to keep up good relations with my neighbors, spraying that close to their living areas would be a non-starter.

Expense. Again, I’m aware that peaches can be difficult to grow in our part of New England. While some of the difficulties can be mitigated by spraying, others (frost, squirrels, especially in a residential area) can’t. With that in mind, while I’m happy enough to pay thirty bucks or so for a peach tree, I’ve concluded that even if I could spray (which I can’t), it wouldn’t be a good investment for me to buy the sprayer and chemicals necessary to do so.

Lack of knowledge/skill/interest. Just being honest with myself, I know that I don’t know how to spray effectively, don’t have the practical skills required to spray effectively, and - most importantly - don’t really want to put the work into learning. That’s not to say that I am universally a slacker when it comes to gardening, because there are lots of other places where I am willing to put the work in. Spraying just isn’t one of them.

D. All that being said, I’m also aware that several people in our neighborhood grow largely untended peach trees that are apparently healthy, have pretty blossoms in the spring, and at least occasionally produce peaches that the owners seem to be happy with. It seems rational to suppose that if I put some thought and effort into taking care of my tree, I might be able to have a similar degree of success, even if I don’t spray.

E. That being said, I’m aware that I might not. C’est la guerre. As a longtime fan of the Detroit Lions, I believe that I am psychologically well-suited to growing unsprayed peach trees in New England.

So, essentially, in the context of growing a bunch of other things in our small yard, I’m growing a single peach tree as a lark (to use your words). You may think that’s not what this forum is about, but I would beg to differ, because one of the things that I find valuable about this forum is the variety of perspectives and experiences that people have to offer. Some people are growing fruit as part of their business. Some people are growing fruit to feed their families. Some people are growing fruit to amuse themselves. And of course different people have different mixes of motivations. As far as my peach tree is concerned, I am growing it primarily for the fun of it and what you might call the rooting interest (win or lose), but that doesn’t mean that I have no interest in information about things like variety selection, pruning, training, etc. I’m just not going to spray it. That’s a rational decision on my part, given my particular situation and motivations. I’m aware of the downside and I’m ok with it.


I still don’t think you understand me. I’m not suggesting your experiences in growing a single peach tree can’t be instructive, I was objecting to inserting hearsay, because I think it can be misleading and cannot be questioned about the details.

If you have more drought there than we have here, it could make all the difference, I used to have a customer that got good peaches with no spray back when we were having dry growing seasons more frequently, or were in that pattern.

His was a Harcrest peach, which is brown rot resistant and the property was out in the open up on a hillside with dawn to dusk sun, essentially what most commercial orchards have but not most home orchards.


Well I could add a bit about growing peaches and inorganic vs organic to the title but somebody might say that the title is too long. BTW, I do not understand why I did not receive a badge for having the longest title in “Growing Fruit” forum history. :grinning: Its all good though.

Regarding spraying fruit trees, this spring I have been mostly using a hose end sprayer. Fortunately I have a well and hydrant close enough to my few trees to allow me to do this. I have found that it is much less work with a hose than with a backpack sprayer. Of course I realize that with a commercial operation or a situation where the trees are a distance from a well that would probably not be possible.


I’ll give you a special badge for being very kind and tolerant to us going astray.

I seriously encourage you to tweak the title to include peach in it. There is a lot of useful info about oeach here for people to learn from.

Also, peach isa very popular fruit treeamong members here. You can get more traffic that way as viewers will need to go through your white clover patch before they reach the peach slope :joy:


What about putting down cardboard over the clover then putting pea gravel on top… diameter of a couple of feet around the base of the tree. The cardboard will suppress the clover without chemicals and then you have the pea gravel as a protective layer for the future. Of course you may have to then pull up any returning clover in the future.


I’m using a lot of cardboard this year myself. I also use some woven landscape fabric (the type with green stripes). I’ve often thought about using white marble gravel or pebbles over landscape fabric to create a light reflecting (improved fruit quality) permanent weed and grass suppressant. Still haven’t gotten around to trying it- the gravel is so heavy! But once and done.


I always keep around a big roll of brown butchers paper for this purpose.


When you guys badmouth clover I’m over here saying


Would construction paper work? I do have a roll of that.


Probably if you covered it with 3 inches of wood chips right after putting it out. Otherwise it will just be shredded and gone in a few days.


Just about every fruit growing literature written in the last 50 years will say to keep a clean orchard floor. Most commercial growers have clean orchard floors.
If you’re letting patches of clover grow, wouldn’t there inevitably be non nitrogen fixing weeds growing as well?


Everything for you seems to be a crusade. No one is badmouthing clover, only saying potential drawbacks of broad-leaf weeds harboring fruit tree pests.

You can imagine a utopia, but in the 100 plus orchards I manage, by far, the most pest pressure is when fruit trees are put in annually mowed meadows. Why would nature reward planting trees in an environment innately hostile to trees? Prairie and forest are two completely different ecologies and many of the species of each actually poison each other.

In about 1968 I began my efforts to manage fruit trees and shared many of your beliefs, which were shattered in about 1991 when I started planting fruit trees on land in NY S. It turned out that Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening was full of lies when it came to growing fruit in the humid regions. That was about the time when Rodale abandoned a mutual project with Cornell to develop methods to grow apples organically in the Hudson Valley because the methods failed. You can be sure they never posted any articles about that in Organic Gardening magazine.

Several years later, Rutgers developed Surround and now Cornell advocates using it to grow organic apples here and they publish a book of guidelines to do so. Perhaps a new product that is organic will be developed that is adequate at controlling brown rot on stone fruit, but I don’t think any of the new biological controls are adequate yet.


Lots of advice here.

Commercial growers try to limit broad-leaved species because of nematode concerns. The nematodes spread disease to the trees.

24d is specific to broadleaves but doesn’t work particularly well on clover. Stinger works well and is safe for trees. Crossbow is a heavy herbicide and can severely injury your tree if it gets on it. Glyphosate is mediocre on clover. Lime is used to modify (raise) pH and will not kill anything.

Bees love clover and the bloom period provides them something good at a complimentary time to apple bloom.


By now the clover is in sweeping bloom.

We can’t get rid of the stuff here. It’s so prominent, it’s almost invasive. I’ve been a little negligent in controlling it in the last few years, and now it’s everywhere.

Here’s some pics I took tonight while mowing a few weeds under the trees. All different rows.

Here is a small field with the clover taking over. (Maybe “taking over” is a little strong, but it’s certainly hard to eradicate.)

Here it is on the neighbors property, even though they graze livestock on it.

It’s not like we have to protect it here. Do nothing and it grows everywhere. It’s stink bug haven.


Just curious, what do you mow your orchard with?

In my experience mowing clover is not the answer. The clover just blooms lower to the ground than the mower will mow! I don’t understand how clover spreads so easily. It certainly is invasive. I’m thinking about getting some Zoysia grass around my fruit trees. How would Zoysia grass compete with clover and do as an orchard grass?

I ended up placing cardboard sheets around my little apple tree. I guess I just have to live with it elsewhere though.


Manually remove weeds. Quick and easy.



The sickle bar is on hydraulics and moves up/down, as well as angle adjustment. It works pretty good, except that the sickle bar is a bit short to get really close to the trees, on some of the trees with the largest canopies.

I also use the sickle bar to spray. I made a quick attach spray boom which attaches to the sickle bar, so I can adjust the height of the spray boom with hydraulics. Here it is attached to a little Rears sprayer I use for spraying herbicides under the trees.

A friend of mine uses a large fold up bat wing mower to mow underneath his trees.


That looks like quite an investment for mowing your orchard and spraying herbicides. I’m sure that you get other benefits with the tractor though.

That sickle bar reminds me of when I was growing up having to help my dad with baling hay. We had a sickle bar that we cut Lespedeza hay with that was attached to the rear of a John Deere Model B (if I remember correctly) rather than to the side like what you have.


Sickle mowers are good mowers. They take very little horsepower to operate. It’ was probably in the 1980’s when most folks started to switch over to disk mowers. They take a lot less maintenance and mow a lot faster, but they do take more horsepower.

The think I don’t like about my sickle mower is that it’s a bit shorter than I’d like. It’s only 6’ long. Some of the old sickle mowers were up to 9’ long.

Having the mower mounted in the middle is nice. They design them that way so you don’t have to keep your neck turned backwards while mowing.


@danzeb I’ve seen those . . . but they don’t look like they would remove the root. Do you have good results, even so? And around trees/plants with shallow roots - don’t know if I’d want to use this. However . . . my back is yelling at me all the time for all of the bending I do. I have started using a kneeling pad when I have to get under the trees to weed. I’ve been looking for a tool that I can use while standing.