Should we plant Vetch? #177991 - Ask Extension


Should we plant Vetch? #177991

Asked April 29, 2014, 10:37 AM EDT

We want our backyard to be Meadow. Can we plant vetch with evergreens?

Erie County Pennsylvania

Expert Response

HI Caller,
My short answer is that I would expect vetches to eventually dominate parts of my meadow unless they are kept in check.

I understand you to ask if some plants may be allelopathic to vetch, or vice versa.
Allelopathy is the chemical inhibition some plants emit in competing against others nearby.

Dr. Kim Coder at the University of Georgia provides a list of trees having possible allelopathic responses on the website of

Vetches may have some allelopathic tendancies that can be managed.
A publication entitled Suppressing Weeds Using Cover Crops in Pennsylvania is hosted at website
Here, Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is mentioned as having such characteristics, although hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) is not. Hairy vetch is apparently agressive, as it is shown to have this disadvantage.

Crown vetch can have this tendancy, and it tends to shade regeneration of other species out as it gathers momentum.

At any rate, I suggest that shade, moisture, and pH may be the largest controllers of what will flourish in your new meadow. Trees tend to shade other things once their canopy is dense.

Some grasses are allelopathic to trees, although trees are not cultured prominently in many meadows. They may be retained depending on your goals.

I hope this helps. You may certainly call me or Agronomist Joel M. Hunter at phone 814-333-7460.

Scott A. Sjolander,
Urban Forestry
Penn State Cooperative Extension in Crawford
13400 Dunham Rd. Suite A Meadville PA 16335  
Phone 814-333-7440 Fax 814-333-1590 Cell 814-282-0865  

Scott Sjolander Replied May 01, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT

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