Planted ground covers can compete strongly with planted tree seedlings, hindering reforestation efforts. Fertilization increases the growth of ground cover, but its effects on hardwood tree seedlings and competitive interactions between trees and ground cover species are unclear. A 3x3 factorial experiment with 3 levels of fertilizer application and 3 seeding rates wasestablished in 2006 to test for differences in tree seedling growth and survival, and for differences in ground cover establishment and composition. The ground cover was applied by hydroseeding a mixture of native warm-season grasses, annual rye and Korean lespedeza, along with lime, mulch and tackifier. Bareroot, 1-0 tree seedlings of scarlet oak, white oak, black walnut and mockernut hickory, along with mockernut hickory seed, were planted on an 2.4 x 2.4m spacing. Tree growth and survival, and ground cover establishment have been monitored. Generally, seeding rate had little effect, while increased fertilization rate was associated with increased percent cover for legumes and non-leguminous forbs. However, there was high variability between blocks, with substantially greater ground cover on the block immediately below intact forest. At the highest seeding rate, fertilization significantly increased cover of clovers. First year survival of white and scarlet oak was greater than 90%. Survival of direct seeded and planted 1-0 mockernut hickory seedlings was similar after one year. Continued monitoring of longer term survival and growth of trees is planned.
- Forest restoration,
- Tree establishment,
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