Looking for an inexpensive tree ring or edging material

I’m sure there has been a thread on this but I searched and couldn’t find anything.

I use pine bark mulch in a 3-4’ diameter around each of my trees and it works well throughout the spring and early summer but by this time of year the grass and weeds in the orchard begin to encroach on the mulch and create a mess. I’ve resigned to the fact that weeds will be present in the orchard as I refuse to spray any weed killer in the immediate area. Which has created a problem with later summer weed encroachment. I want to install some type of edging around each tree so that its easier to contain mulch and creates a physical barrier to help slow weed encroachment. Also it would give me something to trim up against. This time of year can be dry enough, I don’t need invasive weeds or grasses growing under the canopy of my trees stealing moisture.

I’m pretty frugal and don’t want to spend hundred of dollars on stacked pavers. Was thinking about using landscaping timbers or even treated 2-by lumber in some fashion to create rings or enclosures. Anyone have good ideas for how to handle this?

Not exactly what you’re asking for, but for new plantings when I want to keep the grasses out for a year or more I put corrugated cardboard down first under the mulch. It won’t give you the edge your asking about, but it does keep the grasses out of the mulch area for a year or two. It will eventually rot out and need to be replaced but it serves its purpose while the new plant is getting established. BTW no gaps in the cardboard, the grass will find them.

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Thanks for the tip Steve. I know many people here use cardboard. I tried it once and from what I remember it helped but I didn’t have very much of it and ended up going without it on all my newer trees. My most recent form of weed control was using a propane weed burner torch to fry the weeds but it makes me nervous using it that close to the tree. Seems to work well though.

I have used old carpet squares with a cut to center and hole helps retain moisture and keeps weeds out. It does invite voles/rodents and I pulled up for winter. The price is right, you find someone pulling carpet out and they may pay you to haul away

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Dave, I don’t know if termites are an issue for you in your area, but I avoid putting wood to ground if at all possible, due to the possibility of attracting termites. Plus, not sure I want pressure treated wood’s chemicals to leach down around my fruit tree roots. Not sure how much of that might seep into the soil, and then up into the tree and fruits, but for those two reasons, I personally would not use wood or pressure treated wood. Cardboard and mulch is a pretty inexpensive option. This should work for several seasons. You can also put bender board around the tree, creating a large well, then line it with cardboard and mulch. Depending on how many trees you have.


I think the cheapest option is to use logs leftover from tree cutting. I used to do that with everything, to the point that I would pick up any I saw when driving around. But, they do decay after 4-5 years and aren’t ideal to mow against (way too much edging work).

I’ve started using this more recently. I was shopping at Trader Joes the other day and they were unpacking boxes of merchandise, folding up the used boxes in a large box. They were happy to give me the whole lot. I’m thinking about going back and asking for more- it was quite a bit that they gave me, but it still pales at the area I need to cover. It’s definitely easier to put down than to spread woodchips, even if I need to put a rock on top of it to hold it in place.

I’ve used the (relatively) expensive edging from Home Depot, which promises to be “no trim”, due to the horizontal section which extends out. It isn’t really no trim, but it isn’t bad- easy to install compared to pavers, but pricey at $50 for 20 ft.

I’ve thought about doing this, but I am hesitant to introduce whatever chemicals the carpet contains back into the soil.

I’ve been trying this out, but I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong or if my weeds are particularly hardy. I’ve run it over an area a couple times and still see the weeds growing there a few days later. In addition to being close to trees, it makes me nervous in general, as I had to do a couple dances to prevent fires.

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I’m thinking of using a pre-emergent in the spring. Most weeds are seed born, it should help a lot.
I also use cardboard as I hate to throw anything out, as i too, am cheap! Not as bad as my dad though! I seem to always have a lot of good cardboard, so down it goes! I also use straw, leaves, and sometimes even grass mixed with leaves as mulch. Doesn’t look that great, but it’s free. I get free straw after Halloween every year. It probably has a lot of seeds in it though. A cheap grade I’m sure is used for ornamental reasons. I tried straw bale gardening, but my plants in containers did a lot better. Not sure what I did wrong? I’m not going to try again. I need it more for mulch. My favorite mulch is pine straw but I can’t get a lot, so use it for containers only. I have a few yard waste bags full of it at present. White pine, super soft needles that last about 3 years. It looks great in containers.

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[quote=“hoosierquilt, post:5, topic:7071”]
Plus, not sure I want pressure treated wood’s chemicals to leach down around my fruit tree roots.
[/quote]Yes I wasn’t sure how much of a problem that could be. Have any studies been done that show leeching?

[quote=“strudeldog, post:4, topic:7071”]
I have used old carpet squares with a cut to center and hole helps retain moisture and keeps weeds out.
[/quote]I think for me this is more about creating an edging that would prevent weeds from growing horizontally onto the mulch rather than up through it. And as Bob mentioned, there may be nasty chemicals related to the carpet.

[quote=“BobVance, post:6, topic:7071”]
I think the cheapest option is to use logs leftover from tree cutting.
[/quote]I could see this being an absolutely nightmare as far as mowing and edging around. But it’s certainly cheap and readily available.

[quote=“Drew51, post:7, topic:7071”]
I’m thinking of using a pre-emergent in the spring. Most weeds are seed born, it should help a lot.
[/quote]It certainly intrigues me but I’m hesitant to get any type of herbicide near the trees. I’ve read that Preen is safe to use around shrubs and trees so maybe I could try that. But again, it doesn’t address my issue of mulch containment and lateral wed growth.

I think we’ve chatted about this topic in the past, but can’t recall. I don’t know, but I DO know that pressure treated wood is not recommended for raised veggie gardens. So, that’s enough for me.

Patty S.

Yes some, today (well for a couple decades now) they use a copper fungicide, nothing else is in the wood. Some copper leeched in the study I saw, just in nearby soil, no more than an inch. One should be careful when using copper fungicides.

Even corn gluten? (pre-immergent). I thought of trying it, but the stuff is very expensive! I probably will not use it. Corn Gluten is a very bad term! No gluten in corn! Why they call it that??

I agree with pine straw. That stuff is tough in that it takes forever to break down. I use it in the garden and just rake it aside for next season’s crop. Yes, it is more expensive, BUT, my grand kids rake it up and I pay them $1/lge leaf bag (no cones or leaves allowed). BTW the price was set by their dad, LOL (They also homeschool and he’s teaching them about business terms, etc.). Many people have pine trees around here so they will collect pine needles for me. LOL I still have bags in my garage that I haven’t used yet. Guess I better get busy. :cold_sweat:

Cardboard works great as a starter but then I would sheet compost over it. To do that I put chicken wire (aka bunny wire) around it to keep the compost/wood chips in place. Once compost gets thin and the cardboard breaks down, the weeds come through again. In the eastern rain forests there are always plenty of leaves. Awhile back it occurred to me that instead of hauling compost (leaves + grass clippings + garden wastes) from a pile to where I wanted it, just sheet compost where I wanted it anyway. Helps to be cheap, but helps to be lazy too. :blush:

I have been using fiberglass landscape edging to make forms for pouring a 5’ (dia) x 2.5" high x 1.5" thick (appx) concrete ring. The amount of concrete used doesn’t cost too much, but the initial forms might. I had an extra roll of edging for the inside of the form, but had to buy another roll for the outside (about $30). I’ve had a decent amount of success with these. The few that broke work fine reassembled.

I’ve also used old conveyor belt material cut into 4" strips and riveted together in a ring. If you can find any of this, it is really durable and holds up to the elements, but a weed wacker might shred into it over time.
You can cut it with a circular saw or roll it up tight and use a miter saw like you’re cutting sushi rolls. Check craigslist. For example, I just checked near me and found : http://cleveland.craigslist.org/zip/5736637238.html

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Here are the ring forms. The inside 1 is 4 different quadrants so they can come apart easier. I made clips out of spare decking to hold the outer form. The first few I poured in the garage then rolled out. The first one made it fine, the other two broke. I’m more surprised with the one that made it, but I did let it cure a lot longer than the ones that broke. The broken ones broke in four equal quadrants, so I put them together and their actually fine that way. Now I just pour them in place anyway. Best to make these way ahead of time. I also used fiber reinforcement in the concrete mix. ($10 a bag from Amazon, only need a pinch for this) When ready to plant, I fill them with a mound of topsoil due to poor drainage. If you made a ring out of carboard and filled it with a topsoil mound, you could probably use that as the inner form then place an outer form around it and pour in place, then just leave the cardboard. I might try that this fall.



Wow ztom. That is super cool!