Weed Control In Groundcover & Planting In An Area Where A Pine Tree Has Been Removed

Question:

A low growing Cotoneaster covers my hillside. Each spring, the unwanted grasses germinate and is unattractive. Is there a weed killer that will kill the grass but won't hurt the Cotoneaster?

Answer:

  •  It wasn’t that long ago that controlling unwanted grasses in groundcovers was a huge problem.
    • Today, we have several selective herbicides that will destroy the grass but not injure ornamental ground covers such as Cotoneaster. Ortho Grass B Gon and Grass Getter from Monterey Lawn and Garden are two of several products available.
    • They’re very effective controlling the annual and perennial grasses including Bermuda Grass in Ivy, Vinca, Potentilla, and even some types of Junipers.
    • The herbicide is sprayed right over the top of the plants without hurting them. You’ll need to make repeat applications as necessary with aggressive perennial, grasses like Bermuda Grass.
 

Question:

I’ve cut down a large pine tree that was dead. Now that I have lots of light, I'd like to plant citrus and a few fruit trees. Should I remove the pine debris and are there any other precautions?      

Answer:

  • It’s not necessary to remove the pine needles to plant. They haven’t caused a soil, acidity problem.
    • You could test the soil with a simple pH kit available at your favorite garden center. I would only be concerned if the soil pH was below 5. 0. Instead, you could add the pine needles to your compost pile or used them as a mulch mixed with other garden debris.
  •  It’s a great time to plant a home orchard. Lemons, oranges, grapefruit along with apricots, peaches, plum, apples and other fruit trees are now available for planting.
  • However before purchasing any trees, be sure you understand the challenges in front of you.
    • First, the network of surface roots from the established pine tree is extensive. This makes digging a new planting hole or holes difficult.
    • The planting holes should be large, about twice as wide as the original container the trees are in and six inches deeper. The alternative is to plant in raised beds with no bottom, filled with potting soil. It will be years before the pine roots naturally decompose.
    • Second,  citrus and most deciduous fruit trees don’t have the same watering requirements. Apples and pears including asian pears are the best variety to co-mix with all citrus.
  • Once established cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, and nectarines prefer to be kept on the dry side. A good soaking, twice a month once the rainy season concludes,  is sufficient while with citrus it’s twice to three times a week depending on the temperatures.
    • Also, you don’t want to plant under deciduous fruit trees to avoid excessive summer water.  Next, plot the out the spacing on paper, so one tree doesn’t shade another.
    • And finally, select fruit tree varieties with different ripening dates. This avoids overlapping crops and spreads the fresh fruit out over the summer and fall. The nursery professional at your favorite garden center is an excellent resource for helping with the selection for your home orchard