Planting Under Trees Presents Unique Challenges

“Nothing will grow under my trees”.

Mature trees are beautiful and an asset to any property. But they do present some challenging areas that can often times look poorly.

To be perfectly honest, our first response to this statement is usually not what our customers want to hear: “Duh”. Mature trees have large canopies that block out the sun and massive root systems that will out compete smaller plants for water every day. So the area under the trees becomes brown and dead looking. It is a tough environment for anything to grow in. Unfortunately, it is probably less attractive than most people would prefer. So what should we do?

Consider The Tree First

Mature trees are an important asset to any landscape. They take a long time to grow and are most likely the most valuable part of your landscape. Many species need air and water available to the roots to survive. Others cannot tolerate pH change or disturbance to the root system. Understanding and being sensitive to the tree specie’s needs is the first step.

Create an Environment for Success

Simply piling dirt over the root system is not the answer – it will suffocate the tree’s roots. A mixture of screened topsoil and organic matter (leafmold) is better, but only to a depth of 2″. Selecting smaller plants will reduce the need to dig deep and tear out roots. Apply a 2″-3″ layer of mulch will add nutrients and insulate both the new plants and tree roots.

Help Your New Plants

The new plants will require more water than new plants not planted under large trees. Remember, this is a hostile environment and the tree already has a root system in place to take up the water. Water the new plants every other day for at least six weeks. Monitor them during the dry summer for additional water needs.

Some Plants Worth Consideration





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