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Planting Around Trees

We moved into a new home last year that sits among a forest and has many trees throughout the yard. I often see pictures of flowers, like hosta, planted around the trees and I would like to do this.  I have read in your articles not to put any soil over roots or near trees as it will kill the tree.  How do other people plant around trees?

Great question.  I do have flower beds under several of my trees.  The key to keeping the tree healthy is to plant in the existing soil.  For areas with grass I prefer to cut the grass short, spread a layer of newspaper over the area and cover the newspaper with woodchips.  The grass eventually dies and it and the newspaper decompose creating organic matter that worms, ground beetles and other insects move into the soil.  Then I plant my perennials and groundcovers through the mulch and into the existing soil.  For grass free areas, plant your perennials and mulch with evergreen needles, shredded leaves or other organic mulch.  Keep the roots of the new plantings moist the first season or two to speed establishment.   This method takes a bit longer for the plants to fill in the bed, but it is much better for the health and longevity of your trees.


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