The Q&A Archives: Weeds Under My Maple Tree

Question: We have a maple tree that is about 30 years old. We continue to get alot of weeds under the tree. If I just plant flowers or seeds the weeds eventually take over. I'm afraid to spray with weed killer, that it might damage the tree. I really want flowers under there but wouldn't care if nothing was under there as long as there wasn't any weeds.
What is the best thing to do?

Answer: You could put down a thick layer of mulch, such as bark chips, which should keep the weeds at bay. Since you've had weeds for some time, that soil has probably built up a "seed bank" that will continue sprouting as long as conditions are ripe--in other words as long as you continue to apply water! You might try watering--without planting anything--and pulling the weeds as soon as they sprout. Do this several times to reduce the weeds. Then, sow seeds or plant without doing much cultivating. The more soil you stir up, the more weed seeds are brought to the surface to sprout. Keep weeding as soon as any appear, and apply mulch around the plants to keep the weeds down. If you keep at it, you should be able to control them. I wouldn't recommend spraying either--it would be a shame to damage the tree.

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