There are many excellent scientific studies of what it takes to establish trees in a variety of sites. See attached files below. Dr. Jeff Stringer at University of Kentucky is an expert in ground covers and use of herbicides in plantings.
The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative has created the Forest Reclamation Approach (FRA) and defined basic principles that are useful prerequisites for successfully establishing trees. Unfortunately, these seem to be widely ignored.
- Create a suitable rooting medium for good tree growth that is no less than 4 feet deep and comprised of topsoil, weathered sandstone and/or the best available material.
- Create a non-compacted growth medium.
- Use ground covers that are compatible with growing trees.
- Plant two types of trees–early successional species for wildlife and soil stability, and commercially valuable crop trees.
- Use proper tree planting techniques.
Subsoiling At Wilkins Farm, Fall 2012
Subsoiling creates deep channels and breaks through plow pan restrictive layers that develop on agricultural fields. It is not the same as surface tilling which breaks up the top layer and raises the weed “bank” (long-lived weed seeds).
No Till with Glyphosate
Rows are established and maintained by spraying and maintenance with Glyphosate. Mowing is done frequently to reduce cover for field mice and rabbits (pine voles and meadow voles.)
The best suppression of weeds is rapidly growing trees that shade out weed competition. Hand weeding is also needed in the first three years.
The Meades Landing Orchard has never had severe invasive weeds (bindweed, Canada thistle, Japanese honeysuckle), with treatment monthly with Glyphosate. By the 2012 weeds are well-controlled with minimal intervention.