I bought some former pasture land and planted an orchard of trees and bushes. The terrain is very lumpy and bumpy with ground hog mounds and hummocks. I have leveled out some of the more severe humps with an adze as I planted, and leveled the ground some with mulch in some areas, but the boss thinks we should hire someone with a machine to level the ground. I don’t like that idea, as I have things planted over most of it and each item is in a wire cage. I am afraid it would cause more harm than good. Any suggestions for a no-sweat do-it-yourself leveling approach of essentially sod with plants interspersed?
You could level the areas outside of the wire cages. The most common way might be to disk it up, then level, and plant a cover crop. It shouldn’t hurt the trees. Hopefully the groundhogs are toast or it won’t do much good.
A large bulldozer with a large ripper/ subsoiler will level and also make ready for apple or grape roots to penetrate deep.
But, if you’re already planted and growing…and this isn’t a commercial orchard with mechanized spraying, pruning, harvesting…then really, why bother.
My thoughts exactly. Just get it level enough to push a lawnmower through it a couple times a summer should be sufficient. I use a Swisher walk-behind stringline trimmer at this time.
I will be facing the same issue in a year or two. I planted my orchard on some pretty rough ground and am not ready to level it out yet. I plan on renting a box scraper and tractor and doing it that way. From what ive read this sounds like the best option.
Box scrapers work great !
Will they work on dense pasture grass?
Best on bare soil.
May need to incorporate sod, disk / rototill first .
Sod kind of just wads up in there, and does not spread out evenly.
With soil it cuts off the high spots and Carey’s the dirt to fill the low spots.
Great for dirt/ gravel road maintenance, and leveling feilds
My orchard isn’t flat. It’s a lumpy hillside. The brush hog I use mows the grass and knocks down any lumps. I push mower around the Trees.
Gosh, I don’t know about hoeing around fruit trees, particularly apples.
The root system of apple trees is shallow and well branched. The roots have roughly the same horizontal spread as the branches. Most of the active roots are found in the top 12 inches of soil where there is adequate moisture, oxygen, and nutrients.
- Roper, Teryl R., Daniel L. Mahr, and Patricia S. McManus. Growing Apples in Wisconsin. Madison: Cooperative Extension Publishing, Dec 2006. A3565. 24 Mar. 2016 <http://learningstore.uwex.edu/Assets/pdfs/A3565.pdf>.
I was taught (informally) not to.
I wouldn’t want to till deeper than an inch or two if I could avoid it. I’ve heard of people using a drag harrow as a form of very shallow tillage around trees.
That all said, I think you could till much deeper and the trees would live. My dad’s apple tree had a ditch witch tear down pretty deep right next to the trunk last year. I thought the roots were doomed, but as far as I can tell the tree didn’t even notice. If you do till deep enough to tear up some roots, I’d suggest only doing the north (or whatever) side one year, and waiting to do the south side of each row til the following year.