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How to trim around young conifers

 
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The previous owners of my house planted about 5000 pine and spruce trees which is really nice. They are probably planted in 2018 and most of them are growing very well with lots of new branches.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to weed around the seedlings/trees to let them "breathe"? I hope not since there are so many...

They're too close to each other to use a lawn mower or anything like that. It would also be too risky because most of them are only about 8 inches tall and are barely visible in between the grasses, dandelions, weeds, etc. I would probably have to get a bush trimmer and be very careful.

I could upload some pictures if that would help to understand my situation better.
 
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Location: USDA zone 6a/5b
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forest garden food preservation bee
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That does sound like a lot. If you want to keep all of them maybe try using a Scythe...probably cheaper than a trimmer and allows you more precision in trimming. Although it may take much longer, you brak up the work into 2-3 hours increments for a month or so. The best time to Scythe is daybreak til about 2-3 hours after at. So about sunrise to 9am or so.

Although if they are too close to get a nice swing than it may be tough. All you really need is a meter (3feet or so) although 6 is ideal...but then your mower would probably fit.

How close are they apart?
 
pollinator
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Location: WV
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Do you have any idea why they planted so many and who so close?  Sounds as if they might have been considering selling them as Christmas trees but still the spacing seems to be a bit too close for that.  If the trees are above the level of the weeds they should be okay.  On the other hand, if the weeds are taller than the trees, you run the risk of the weeds crowding them out.  

I actually was picturing a scenario where you couldn't get a push mower between the trees, but since you stated you have over 5000 I realize you were probably referring to a riding mower as I imagine that would take a while to mow around that many.  In that case, the spacing is probably about what the commercial tree farms around here use.
 
Daniel Benjamins
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They are all planted in a grid, about 5 feet apart. I meant to say a riding mower indeed, not a regular push mower. My riding mower barely fits in between the trees plus the land is so wobbly that it's pretty much impossible to drive on there.

Our land is just over 8 acres and the first owners of the house had a complete dirt bike track built in the back yard. The previous owners cleared everything and planted the trees. I think it's about 4-5 acres of trees in total.

I guess I have to wait and see what happens. It seems kind of impossible to keep everything maintained. I think if they would survive this year, they will taller than the weeds next year and then they should be okay. And then in a year or two they are tall enough to actually see them all and keep everything a bit more maintained.
 
gardener
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I have imagined this on a small scale.
At that scale I always think of chickens.
They'd destroy anything that wasn't  perennial and some of the perennials as well.
They would love the decaying needles,  the bugs and fungus and any stray seeds,  but the trees would be fine.
Unfortunately,  I see no easy way to protect and employ them on such a large scale.
 
Daniel Benjamins
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An update regarding my question about weeding around pine seedlings.

A few months ago I found a sawmill in my area that sold me a truckload full or wood shavings for $40 (CAD). My idea was to mulch around the seedlings, to prevent weeds to come (next year) up too close to them. It also gave me a good overview where and how the seedlings were planted.

So what I did is find a seedling, mark it, put some shavings around it and then after I did a large area, mow the weeds with my gas trimmer.

Putting down the shavings turned out too much work (not worth the time) so when I ran out of wood shavings I bought a pack of 100 orange stake flags. I'm using those to mark a large area of seedlings, mow around them and then re-use the flags for another area.

This works our pretty well and is also fast since you can see the flags from far away. This makes it a lot easier to find the next seedling in the grid and you can also immediately see if you missed one. In some areas the seedlings died or are too hard to find, I will have to weed those by hand with a machete.

All this gave me a good feeling about keeping the weeds down, and protect the seedlings from getting smothered when the tall (2-3 ft) weeds get blown over and covered with snow. I found quite some seedlings that were growing horizontally or very crooked. I'm wondering how these trees will turn out...

Next year the seedlings will grow bigger while I can keep the weeds down to a few inches instead of a few feet. Maybe in a year or two weeding is not necessary anymore because the trees will outgrow them. Or at least it will be a lot easier since every tree will be visible without marking them first.

At the very back of my property I found tons of (wild) pine seedlings. As an experiment I transplanted 30 of them to my front yard, to grow them bigger and put them back where the planted seedlings have died or disappeared.
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You can see some of the stake flags, this picture was taken from my window
You can see some of the stake flags, this picture was taken from my window
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A lot of mowing done, still a lot more to do (upper right corner)
A lot of mowing done, still a lot more to do (upper right corner)
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Very crooked tree
Very crooked tree
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90 degrees bend
90 degrees bend
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Stake flags. A lot cheaper at ULINE if you buy in bulk
Stake flags. A lot cheaper at ULINE if you buy in bulk
 
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