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In this climate preferred ground covers for tree crops are short and dense. Over winter they dry off so clovers may grow up and collapse. Ground covers are ideally long lived perennials or annual perennials. Without ground covers you only have one option which is bare ground that may be covered with mulch. Ground covers compete for moisture + they also assist to conserve soil moisture. Ground covers respond to grazing and slashing. YOU SELECT and ENCOURAGE your Tree Crop Ground Covers according to Soil + Climate + Management. OBJECTIVE is to use short creeping groundcovers to create a dense mat of organic top soil matter that increases rainfall penetration. Multiple species then self regulate according to seasonal conditions.

PHOTO 3 Below is an example of strong couch grass density over winter that may now be broadcast with selected seeds. (Couch is dormant over winter = provides an opportunity to grow a winter crop/groundcover with out any cultivation). Seeds may be “trample planted” (Photo 2) or simply watered in with rain or a sprinkler.                

RECOMMENDED: LOOK at POMEGRANATE in LINK ABOVE as it Well Suited for Integration with Sheep in Orchard


PHOTO 1: Creeping Lippia is establishing here from clumps transplanted in Spring amongst Pitaya and a Clump of Leucaena. Lippia is also useful for walkways as it will withstand heavy foot traffic. 


PHOTO 2: Sheep have been penned here for multiple nights on a patch seeded with couch grass seed. Once sheep are moved you can activate couch with applied water or 100 mm plus of rain over a few weeks. These patches are an effective method of introducing new groundcover species in to orchards. Establish a patch and manage its spread. Plugs of Lippia were also planted here. Results vary according to season. EG: Autumn verses Spring.


PHOTO 3: Black Mulberry in Winter. Dominant groundcover here is couch grass that has been un-grazed for two years. Due to current dry of last 6 months no clovers have grown yet. With late winter rain they will. Clovers can remain dormant for many years without autumn/winter rain. All tall tussock grasses are removed over time with a mattock. OPTIONS: (1) Broadcast dry couch with Winter Active Daikon Radish or Canary Seed and apply water. Canary is an annual that will dry off in Spring. WHY: to grow more organic matter in ground from residual roots. (2) Graze with sheep over Winter or Early Spring. (3) Leave it alone + do nothing until you think you should do something. THIS Couch is now so thick  that it is almost inhibiting new couch growth. 

ground covers

PHOTO 4: English Oak going into Winter. Base of tree has been cultivated and planted to couch grass. This is one method of establishing couch grass in this paddock. Grazing will knock tall grasses back while patches of couch will set seed and spread. With out intervention short grasses will be shaded out by tall grasses. So to maintain short creeping groundcovers you need to develop a management strategy of (1) introducing new plant species (2) periodic grazing or slashing


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