How to create a flower bed around tree

Planting a garden under a tree can be challenging but it is not impossible. Doing some pre-garden planning will assist you in creating a garden that is quite pleasant to behold.

No matter where you live, your "climate zone", or what type of tree you have there are a few basic challenges in creating a flowerbed around a tree. Aside from the shade, you also have to deal with tree roots and the amount of moisture your tree needs to stay healthy.

A well-established tree will have large well-established roots. This narrows your options for a flower garden. Some trees don't like an additional 3 feet of soiled added near its trunk. Some trees, like Oak, do not like regular watering and some trees are "evergreen". This means even more shade and a constant shedding of dry leaves or needles.

Knowing the best conditions specific to your tree will be vital to your success. This will require a trip to a garden center or a bookstore. You also need to take some time looking at the shade pattern under your tree. Does your tree shed all its leaves in the winter? Is there an area under the tree that receives more sun during certain times of the day? Do you have areas of deep shade and areas of partial shade?



If you can afford a good tree trimming service, you can select certain branches of which removal will provide better sun. Many gardeners are amazed at what a little trimming and shaping can do to improve the tree's aesthetics as well as provide more sunlight to dapple the garden.

Your next step is to find areas of planting around the tree roots. Dampen the soil around the tree and gently use a shovel to find any areas that are relatively free of large roots. You may have to get on your hands and knees and use a small shovel. Cutting large roots can be damaging to the tree and its ability to resist strong winds. Smaller, spindly roots can be cut without harm. A tree trimming service may help you with this at the time you choose to trim branches. Or you can patiently work with the areas around the tree, which do allow you to shovel holes in the soil. Dig the holes as deep and wide as possible.

Now you are ready to select some pots and plant containers that will fit in the holes you have dug. To maximize your space, you will need, at least, several pots of the same size. For example, if one of your holes will accommodate an 8-inch pot, buy another just like it. Set the second pot aside, as you will use it later at the change of season. For unusual and creative effect, you can go to a thrift store or garage sale and select some old gravy boats, cooking pots, or even old shoes. This is where you can create a theme to your garden.

Whatever you use as a container will need drainage, so use a nail, carefully to poke a hole. If your nickel priced gravy boat splits don't worry, it is still usable in your garden. You can use a small groundcover plant such as creeping thyme and plant it in the pieces of the gravy boat. Then use some dirt and sphagnum moss to pack around the item so it is partially buried.

With your garden area prepared and having knowledge of your shades and sunlight areas, you are ready to start selecting your plants and flowers. You have a wide variety of categories from which to choose. There are some limitations but many Ferns, Bulbs, ornamental grasses, flowering ground cover, and flowers will thrive in shade to partial shade. Tall Biannuals like Foxglove go well with Perennial fern and produce stunning stalks of color. Wax begonias and Primrose come back year after year, and some annuals provide fun variety with each season. Your garden store will assist you in making the best selections.

Plants that you placed in your special containers, like the gravy boat, will need to be perennials, as it will be difficult to remove the container for re-planting. However, the second pot that you purchased and set aside can be planted up with a fresh variety of seasonal annuals. Simply dampen the soil around the pot under the tree, lift and replace. This is especially great with bulbs. As the bulbs die back, you simply lift the entire pot out of the ground and replace with a same-size pot with fresh seasonal bloomers. You can set the pot of bulbs away from site and leave them until autumn. Then put them back under the tree. The tree roots will grow around the pots, holding the hole open so you can easily slip a new pot in the same spot. You can save on water, because instead of having water stream away from your plants, you simply water the pot. This method works well with Oak trees that can develop rot with too much water around their roots in the summertime. Since the pots are buried or partially buried in the soil, it allows the flowers and plants to retain moisture. Perennials will find their own root room through the drainage holes in your pots and get the additional soil nutrients from the tree. You can hide any unappealing mechanics of your garden, such as pot lips, by banking soil and sphagnum moss. Eventually groundcover will provide such coverage. In addition to all this, you still get to go to the garden center, when the urge hits, and get an annual or six-pack and replace one of your pots under the tree.

© High Speed Ventures 2011