The EcoCover mats are really good. I have the 200mm size (or is that 250mm?) with the hessian backing. They were easy to lay and they do what they are meant to and suppress the weeds but also retain ground moisture – for such young plants that have their roots so close to the surface that is important. There are also a lot of invertebrates making their home under the mats which must be good for the soil ecology as well. One thing you might want to note is we bought pegs to anchor the weed mats but I have not needed to use them. Even with all the winds the plant guards on top of them have been enough to keep them secured on the ground and once the mats have had a rain or two they mould to the ground quite well. So if anybody needs some pegs let me know…

The time line has been:

  • Lime applied mid autumn
  • Tree planting (200) completed mid August
  • Dripper irrigation (2l per hour) was installed in mid-November. This will be replaced with sprinkler irrigation in third year.
  • Weedspraying completed November. Intervening rows mowed.
  • We’ve now got all plants in (200 trees), the strips weed sprayed, and the irrigation going. So hopefully it will just be a case of watching things grow.

Only one has died so far and a lot are still just sitting there thinking about growing and are just starting to move now. I think what has happened is that the trees were frosted. A lot of the primary growth buds died after those frosts in late August/ September. I don’t think that this will be detrimental in the long term but has just slowed down the progress of them getting started.