weeds under apple trees

Asked June 17, 2013, 1:27 PM EDT

I have some apple trees in my back yard lawn. I have researched how to control the lawn weeds in this area and have come up with conflicting information. All say do not use weed and feed fertilizer. Some say yes and some say no to spot spraying the weeds with Ortho Weed B Gon Max which contains 2 methyl 4 chlorophenoxacetic acid as the major ingredients. The yes says to stay away from the tree trunks. In the past I have pulled or dug out the weeds, but it is getting too much of a job. Is it ok to use this?

Genesee County Michigan weed issues

3 Responses

I would not recommend using Weed b Gon Max as it is a much more powerful compound than regular Weed b Gon, and it can be damaging to trees according to the label. Look for an herbicide that's registered for use with the type of fruit tree, the age of the tree and the time of year. Weed control for newly planted fruit trees begins before planting and requires a mixture of site preparation methods, weed barriers and herbicide. You could paint the bottom 2 to 3 feet of the tree trunk with white latex paint to reduce the chance of injury from herbicide application, and make sure to apply the registered herbicide according to recommendations. Controlling weeds and grasses around young apple trees minimizes competition for soil nutrients and moisture, encourages vigorous tree growth, and increases fruit size. It will also help to minimize damage from pine and meadow voles, and other rodents. Keep all vegetation controlled out to the drip line of the tree where the outer branches end. Do not use weed whips; these can girdle the tree without any visible signs of injury. Avoid mechanical weed cultivation, such as tilling, as it damages shallow tree roots. Herbicides are effective, but follow the label directions carefully and keep them off the tree. Mulch will also control weeds and conserve soil moisture, however rodents may burrow under the mulch and gnaw tree trunks and roots. When using mulch, place rodent guards around the base of the tree, and pull mulch back in the fall, leaving a 1-foot circle of bare soil surrounding the trunk. Hope this was helpful. Feel free to contact us again if you have further questions.

Thank you for the answer to my question #134844,and after reading it, I am supplying additional information. The 4 apple trees are over 30 years old in my back yard lawn. The grass grows right up to the trunks. I want to spray some lawn weeds in the grass between and under the 4 trees out to the drip edge. You say weed b gon max is too powerful and other herbicides can be used-would you please give me the names of some acceptable herbicides that can be used. Unfortunately, weed b gon max was sprayed inside the drip edge of two trees. Is there any reason not to use the fruit from theses trees?

I only mentioned the Weed be Gon product, because you had spoken of it in your original question. I’m not recommending it specifically. There are a number of good weed killers on the market that would not be as potent as Weed b Gon Max that should be okay to use around your trees, as long as you do not spray the leaves, fruit or exposed roots. Also, it depends on what weeds you are trying to control. There are broad-leaf weeds and grassy weeds. Make sure that the weed you are focusing on is listed on the label. The label should also tell you if it could or should not be used around fruit trees. There may be a better product to use, but I’m not aware of it. You could check out the herbicides at your local garden center, or write to or phone the makers of the product you want to use (this one is at www.Ortho.com).The phone numbers are usually on the label. I have not heard of a weed herbicide affecting the fruit as long as it is not sprayed directly on the fruit, but that is something you might ask Ortho regarding the Weed b Gon Max that was sprayed under two of your trees. Sorry I wasn’t of more help! It is going to take research of the different products from here on in.