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Re: TH: Perrenials & Annuals around Trees ...
Post-To: Tree-House@Majordomo.Flora.Com (Community Forestry) ----------
At 11:38 AM 6/1/97 -0400, you wrote:
> Post-To: Tree-House@Majordomo.Flora.Com (Community Forestry) ----------
>In a message dated 97-05-31 20:25:34 EDT, Paul wrote:
>> I urge great caution when planting things next to trees for a number of
>> 1. Dense plantings make water penetration and untake more difficult for
>> newly planted trees.
>> 2. The act of planting results in root and potentially trunk damage to
>> the tree. This damage may progress in severity over time resulting in
>> root or trunk failure.
>> 3. I have never seen flowers and trees both do well when planted in the
>> same space.
>> Paul Dykema
>> City Forester
>> Lansing Mi.
>Paul's right about the need to exercise caution and I would certainly
>agree with him on points #1 and #2. On point #3, though, I think he
>way overstates things. Haven't you ever been into the woods or the
>country and seen flowers/shrubs/trees coexisting happily,
>obviously for decades?
>Certainly you have to be careful with your choices and not get
>carried away. In any event, I'd err on the side of being kind to
I would go lightly on the degree and manner by which you might dig or
cultivate within the root zone of a tree. A tree's root system is much
shallower than most people presume. Mechanical cultivation such as with a
rototiller can devastate a tree's root system. As a rule of thumb I would
think twice/thrice before disturbing more than 25% of root zone surface or
damaging "significantly" sized roots which support extensive feeder root
systems. Hand digging with a garden fork only does a nice job of "striking a
The health and relative vigor of the species or the specimen can always be
taken to bear though. It's pretty hard to do much harm to an established
maple but quite easy to send a dogwood into shock. Pretty flowers could be
the beginning of a ugly tree.
An established tree is much more tolerant than is an establishing
transplant. When a transplant is establishing itself in a restricted rooting
zone, i.e. tree well, narrow street lawn, etc. I would not plant much of
anything that is vigorous, but DO MULCH. After 2-3 establishment you can
give the tree more competition. Some undercovers, such as ivies, bulbs,
hostas, periwinkle seem to grow vigorously yet not to stress the tree too
much. Turf grasses are heavy competitors, the less of them in the 'dripline'
root zone, the better. It is worthwhile to note that extra fertilizer,
water, etc. that is preferentially provided to the undercovers, in an effort
to help them fair better in light of tree competition , only promotes
increased tree root proliferation in the area of the undercovers. You are
probably better off avoiding fueling a "arms race".
2608 University Dr.
Durham NC 27707