Do you already have beautiful trees in your yard but still want more? That’s something you can make happen. Whether you want more colors, more shapes, or more types of nature in your yard, you can do that by planting a garden under your tree.
Additionally, as trees grow larger, the space underneath them becomes more open and bare. Planting a garden under your tree is a great choice to fill this open space, add height variation to your landscape, and take your garden to the next level.
There are some things you should know before you simply begin planting your own garden under your tree, however. You want to ensure your new plants flourish. Here are some important things you need to know first.
Be Careful of the Tree
As trees are majestic creatures, it may be easy to forget how vulnerable they can be. They’re sensitive, especially when it comes to damage to their bark or roots. Because of this, if you’re looking to plant a garden under a tree, it’s critical that you’re extremely careful of the roots. You don’t want to accidentally dig a root of the tree up. It’s also safer if you use a digging knife rather than a shovel and if you dig as far away from the roots (while still being under the tree) as you can. The bark on the trunk of the tree is easier to avoid, but it’s still important to be careful not to damage that by accident.
Plant Your Garden Soon After Planting Your Tree
Maybe you just planted your tree. Planting your garden under the tree soon after is a good idea too, rather than waiting. Of course, we know this isn’t always possible (and it’s definitely okay to plant a garden under your tree even if it has been there for years), but if you have this opportunity, take advantage of it. It’s easier to be careful of the roots of the tree because they haven’t burrowed into the soil and are still laying close to the surface, meaning they’re easier to see.
Do Not Start By Planting Large Plants
When it comes to planting a garden under a tree, the key is to start small. In the spirit of starting when the tree is young, it’s easier to dig smaller holes for small seedlings rather than larger holes for large plants. This will also help you avoid damaging the bark or the roots. It’s important to note that when you are planting seedlings, you need to water them a lot at first, just like you water a newly planted tree. These small plants will adapt better to the small space, meaning that you won’t hurt your tree while growing these seedlings.
Give the Small Plants Extra Attention to Start
The small plants you’ve planted are now growing in tandem with the tree, but keep in mind they’re in fact competing with it. Because of this, you need to make sure the small plants will survive against this dominant tree. Watering frequently, especially if there’s a lack of water, is important. They’ll be blocked from natural water due to the tree. They also have small root balls that will need a lot of water close to the stem. On top of this, you need to monitor the moisture of the soil until the plants are grown and established. If the tree seems to be taking most of the moisture, spot-water where you planted the small plants.
Also, stay away from fertilizers for about a year after planting your seedlings. This is because fertilizer actually results in more top growth than root growth, and the seedlings you have planted need to focus on root growth to establish themselves and then flourish.
Mulch will help both your tree and your new garden under your tree grow healthy. It also will give your yard a “forest floor” look if that’s what you’re going for. Additionally, mulch helps when it comes to retaining moisture, which gives the plants a boost they benefit from. Early spring is a good time to reapply mulch, as this is the time before the plants leaf out. Be careful when you’re adding more mulch to your garden under your tree, as you don’t want to accidentally cover the plants.
Know What Types of Plants to Plant
Not all types of plants will flourish under a tree. For instance, if a plant needs lots of direct sunlight to grow, it won’t do well in the shade of a tree. Choosing native plants is also a good idea, as they’re used to growing as understory plants in forests. Additionally, bulbs are a popular choice for the spring. If you’re planting under a deciduous tree, tulips and daffodils are popular choices because they’ll bloom and look best before the tree leafs out. There are also some shrubs that grow well in the shade, such as azaleas and hydrangeas. These will add a boost of color to your yard as well.
There are a lot of things you need to know and be wary of before planting a garden under your tree, but it is possible, and the end result is worth it.
We understand if you’re hesitant because you’re concerned about overdoing it on your own, damaging your tree, or knowing which plants will flourish in those conditions. If you want a garden under your tree but want some guidance, calling in professionals like Mr. Tree is a good idea. We’re experienced arborists and know what to look out for when planting near tree roots. Additionally, we can provide you with different suggestions of plants to grow in this garden. Let’s take your yard to the next level.