Ideas for frugal tree mats?

adellabedella_usaJune 7, 2008

We've been busy planting trees and bushes in the yard. Now we need to put something around the base of the trees to keep the grass down to make it easier to mow and weed eat. I'm looking for something to substitute for the pricey rubber mats that go around the tree bases. Any ideas?

Thanks,

Adella

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western_pa_luann

Never saw rubber tree mats!

In my neighborhood, we either have grass to the trunks or mulch.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 11:17AM
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adellabedella_usa

This is what I'm talking about. I think it's a bit pricey at $13 per mat.

Here is a link that might be useful: tree mat

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 11:37AM
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western_pa_luann

Yep, I know what they are.
No one uses them here... I never saw one in my area.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 9:25PM
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joyfulguy

Hi ad/bed-ella,

Last year I had a problem in my garden.

The landlord has a diesel-powered rototiller, with nearly 40" swath, that he was going to use to cultivate the garden last summer... so, instead of a foot or a foot and a half or two feet between rows, which several kinds of vegetables need - it was 44". About what one needs for cucumbers, cantaloupe, zucchini and watermelons.

So - that means that there are only 8 rows down most of the garden.

Trouble was - he only cultivated about twice, last summer (which is unusual for him, as he's very good at getting everything taken care of - keeping all of the juggling balls in the air). There's so much resistance on the starting rope that I can't pull it! To be fair ... I think that he'd have been there oftener had I merely asked.

Which meant that, to get use of an additional part of the garden, (that another guy was to use and didn't), which I needed when I had to transplant about 5 dozen tomato plants that I had planted too closely, I had to pull a lot of weeds that were half as tall as I - and thick on the ground.

He cut some tall grass around the garden a couple of days ago and I've hauled it over to drop between the rows ... but it's way too thin to deter the weeds there.

I've wondered about hauling some of the now nearly useless bales of straw from the barn to scatter fairly heavily between the rows ... which should deter the weeds a lot.

Moreover, it'll retain the moisture when it rains.

How do you react to collecting the grass clippings from the lawn ... and dropping them in a pile too thick for the grass to penetrate in a space ... what, a foot? a foot and a half ... or two? around the trees?

If you could use straw, it would lie loosely enough (especially in the beginning, before it shrank down, rotting) to allow the rain to run down through and into the ground where it would then retain it longer than on bare ground.

However, grass clippings pack so tightly that I think they'd soon repel the rain, so not much would go into the ground under it, and be retained longer because it would evaporate less rapidly.

However, the rain would run down in larger quantity at the edges of the mulch, and likely penetrate farther, so there'd be some extra available over dry periods to be absorbed by the roots of the trees.

In the beginning, perhaps you would choose to hoe or otherwise cultivate the clippings into the ground around the tree, to enrich it as it rots: elbow grease instead of losses from the wallet.

Actually, since there seem to be fewer tasks around the home to provide experience at doing chores to help children and teens learn their responsibbility to pay their way in the world, as they need to learn that there ain't no free ride, perhaps they could help with these tasks, as part of their family responsibility. Actually, probably doing dishes, sweeping, washing clothes, dusting and learning to cook would be more useful, looking to the first days after they leave home.

If lacking a bagger on your mower, do you need a lawn sweeper to follow the mower to collect the clippings? I have one in the garage that a friend gave me a year or so ago ... that has yet to be used, here.

Good wishes for finding a frugal way to keep the grass away from the trees.

olejoyful

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 4:48AM
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lucy

Garden ctres use big pieces (often ring-like) of matting to line hanging baskets of flowers. Maybe you could ask about those.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 6:43AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Perhaps outdoor carpet remnants that you cut yourself? You could just mulch with gravel or rock which I think would be more aesthetically pleasing.

Less permanent ideas would be to just use peat moss around the base or wood chips.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 8:06PM
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adellabedella_usa

Thanks and great timing! I think I'm going to try the carpet idea. We were actually supposed to have our indoor carpets removed today so we can get hardwood flooring. It's raining so we'll have to wait until this weather passes.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 1:27PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I'm perplexed...why aren't you just using mulch?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:39PM
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adellabedella_usa

The grass I'm dealing with is bermuda. I have a really hard time with it. It puts out runners and goes places other grasses don't seem to like to go. I've tried digging it out and putting down the black barrier covered with dirt and it grew through the barrier. I don't think the mulch will be enough. I probably will get some bark mulch to put over the carpet for aesthetics, but I don't think will get rid of the bermuda problem.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 9:28PM
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patser

Just a thought, but do you want all the chemicals from the carpet pieces leaching into the soil around the base of the trees? I sure wouldn't.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 7:50AM
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clink

I sold carpet for 10 years and now am an organic farmer -- I can't see the carpet being a problem. Most of the chemicals in nylon, polyester and olefin fibers have been added while the fiber is in a liquid state -- so it will not leach out. Spray-on scotch guard treatments are no longer used.

It would be no different than using landscape fabric (basically same chemical composition) but the landscape fabrics falls apart faster.

I think its the best solution for her problem.

Cathy

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 8:02AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I think the bermuda will still grow under the carpet. Bermuda is amazingly horrible and has roots that go down many feet into the ground. I find the best thing to do is cut a sharp trench around the tree - big enough to cover the branch spread- and either install an edging or religiously weed eat around the trench. Runners that are already in the bed can be treated individually with round up. Don't spray since the trees are not established, but paint on the round up or put the runners into a jar of it and let it soak up.
Most people with bermuda using edging or a round up combo.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 10:19AM
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