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Gardening Under Trees

A cool spot in the shade of trees is a great place to rest on a sunny day. But growing plants under the shade of a tree can be challenging.

The dense canopy not only shades the plants, but also prevents rainfall from reaching the plants beneath. Plus, the extensive tree roots absorb most of the water before the plants. 

Mulch is the easiest solution and good for the trees. Convert grass to mulch without the use of chemicals by cutting the grass short, covering with cardboard or newspaper and top with a 2- to 3-inch layer of woodchips.

Plant shade tolerant perennials and groundcovers between the major roots of the tree and water as needed for the first two years.

Do not cultivate deeply or add soil as you can kill the tree with as little as an inch of soil placed over the roots.

A bit more information: Add a bit of color with a few potted flowering plants set on the mulch or among the groundcover surrounding the tree. Or permanently sink a few pots in the ground. Then set pots of annual flowers inside the buried pots. It's easier on your back and the trees roots.

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