How to manage the area between tree rows

I’ve recently cleared an area and planted some bare root fruit trees. I now need to figure out how to best manage the area between the tree rows. I plan to add wood chips in about a 6’ diameter around each tree. Each tree has it’s own drip irrigation, and I’d rather not irrigate or continue to till the rows between trees.

I’m considering uncovered weed fabric or orchard/pasture grass which would need to be mowed but hopefully in our area not irrigated. I would also like to minimize any herbicide necessary to keep down weeds.



Wow! Beautiful organization and preparation. That will be a picture-perfect orchard.


Others may know better than me, but I have seen a lot of chatter from people who really regret putting down weed fabric. It can make a big mess when things start to grow through it.


Are you worried about voles? I have a feline Dexter and do not need to worry about them and i would do cardboard if available and heavy layers of woodchips or do a low growing greenery like clover. I think vole and rabbit pressure effects what people do the most. After taking that into account you should do what you would like to go outside and see.

Weed fabric inhibits earthworms from doing there jobs. One earth worm can digest 36 tons of soil a year.


Fabric can work but sun breaks it down in a few years and then you’ve created a lot of non-recyclable plastic waste. I cover it with wood chips when I have to use it and scrape them off every year to replace but it stops solar degradation, although it eventually becomes trash anyway. It doesn’t seem to bother my earth worms.

If you use drip irrigation for the trees I would keep the middles with mowed turf or a variety (species) that can hold on without water and droops over and turns brown in summer. Seen such grass used but forget what it was. Then you can use the cardboard covered with mulch in the tree rows. It looks like your soil could benefit from more organic matter anyway. Maybe you can get a local arborist to provide free chips.

In the humid regions, annual wood chip applications eventually can lead to excessively vigorous trees, but where you are you can control vigor with the spigot.


Thanks for the input - I’m ruling out the use of fabric. I have found some seed mixes formulated for use in the orchard & vineyard which seem a better route to go. This will also allow the use of a tractor in the orchard. I guess I better get some seed planted!


my property is planted in rows like this and i mulch the entire row with wood chips so i just have to mow the rows up and down. just reg. grass in between. as the trees fill in and shade the grass you will have to mow less and less. looks great! put some more ornamental fruit bushes on the ends to add a nice effect to the rows. i have aronia , comfrey and elderberry.


I work in at Roxi’s Greenhouse and Nursery. She used Typar landscaping fabric topped with sawdust or gravel. It works really well. Weeds do not grow through it.


And a pre-emergent herbicide? It doesn’t take long for that mulch to become soil.