- How to Plant & Grow Chilean Mesquites
- How to Plant Perennials Around Mature Trees
- Can You Plant Elephant Ears by Pine Trees?
- How to Grow Hostas Under Magnolias
- What to Plant Around the Base of a Tree
Tree roots can be so thirsty that they make the ground under and near their canopy inhospitable for many plants. One way to conserve moisture is with groundcovers. When landscaping around trees, look for flowering perennials that adapt well to dry soil and partial to full shade. Avoiding annuals is wise, because planting them year after year disturbs tree roots. Companion plantings also may depend on whether some of your trees chemically inhibit other plant growth.
Protection of Tree Roots
When planting near or under trees, you need to minimize the size of planting holes and the number of times you plant to avoid damaging tree roots with shovels or other sharp tools. Most tree roots are in the first 6 to 24 inches of soil and extend beyond the end of a trees canopy, or drip line. Woody permanent roots, which you can often see above ground, anchor the tree. In contrast, trees receive much of their moisture and nutrients from temporary, hair-like, feeder roots that are close to the soil’s surface and are easily disturbed by repeated planting of annuals. Consequently, it is better to plant perennials near trees. Selecting perennials in pots with diameters no bigger than about 4 inches keeps planting holes small. Eventually, tree and perennial roots comfortably intermingle.
One serious landscaping mistake that flower gardeners sometimes make is to create raised planting areas around trees. You can stunt a tree and eventually kill it by placing extra soil on top of the ground through which its roots spread. A raised bed of only 4 inches of soil over part of a tree’s root zone severely decreases oxygen and water to roots. If you want to create a ring of flowering plants around, and a few feet beyond, the drip line of a tree, a better choice is to mass one or two low-maintenance flowering perennials. Possible choices include heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) and creeping phlox (Phlox subulata), which grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 and 10. They tolerate some shade, but need at least six hours of sunlight daily.
Whereas turf grasses often compete with trees for moisture and can slow the growth of young trees, flowering groundcovers that are drought and shade tolerant are beneficial under and around trees, because they conserve moisture. Two good choices for part-to-full shade are California Dutchman’s pipevine (Aristolochia californica) and Heuchera species, which are commonly known as coral bells or alumroot. Both work well in part-to-full shade. California Dutchman’s pipevine thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 10, blossoms in winter, climbs tree trunks without doing harm and attracts Pipevine swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Heucheras grow well in zones 4 to 9. Although many species like moist ground, three that tolerate dry soil are Lillian’s Pink coral bells (H. “Lillian’s Pink”), Rosada coral bells (H. ‘Rosada’) and island alumroot (H. maxima).
Some trees, such as the California black walnut (Juglans hindsii), produce toxic chemicals that not only keep weeds under control but also cause many plants to wither. Black walnut species are particularly toxic due to the juglone in their leaves and roots. Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), creeping phlox, heath aster, heucheras, and sweet woodruff (Gallium odoratum) are good perennials for landscaping near black walnut trees.
If you have some tree in your backyard or front yard, you may think about creating a flower bed around it. This will instantly change the whole look of the yard and the flowers will for sure beautify it. So, today, we would like to show you several such Eye-Catching Flower Beds Around Trees that you may get inspired from.
Planting some flowers around a tree may seem to you like a simple process, but still there are some things that need to be considered. First, it is important to trim away few of the lower branches to allow light to come under the tree. You shouldn’t make a raised bed because this won’t create better soil for the flowers. It may even harm or kill the tree. You should plant in holes to avoid damage to the tree’s shallow root system. Also, you shouldn’t plant large plants. This is because they can grow too high even through the tree’s lower branches. So, look for some low growing plants. Such plants can be lilies, violets, daffodils, primrose, wild ginger, coral bells, stone crop, shooting star etc. Scroll down now to see our collection of flower beds around trees and get inspired to create one in your yard too. Enjoy!
15 Eye-Catching Flower Beds Around Trees
These flower beds are quite versatile in terms of the plants used. Also, they differ in their edging. Some of these flower beds have edgings made out of versatile materials. Such materials can be rocks, pebbles, bricks, wooden logs, palettes etc. You can even make edging out of some repurposed items, such as plates, glass bottles, cinder block, terracotta pots etc. Garden edging serves to beautify the lawn, to keep animals away from plants as well as to create a visual reminder for the kids to stay out of flowerbeds.
Photo via: activerain.com Photo via: thegreatgoodness.com Photo via: boulderrealestatenews.com Photo via: creativeoutdoorlivingllc.com Photo via: internetgardener.co.uk Photo via: hometalk.com
So, how do you like the above flower beds around trees? Would you choose to make some for your yard, or do you prefer to see the tree, just as it is. Tell us in the comments and if you choose to make one follow the tips that we have mentioned above. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to stay up to date with the content of Top Dreamer to find many other decoration ideas for your outdoor space.
- How to Grow Pulsatilla
- How to Get Rid of Weeds in a Pachysandra
- How to Kill New Weeds Coming Up in an Existing Flower Bed
- How to Raise Flowers
- How to Use Pea Gravel as a Weed Blocker for Raised Beds
The battle between gardener and weeds is tiring and often a never-ending, losing battle. With proper site preparation and gardening practices, you can beat weeds with your next gardening venture. The sooner you begin to plan and prepare the soil, and the more control methods you incorporate, the more likely you’ll be able to enjoy a weed-free flower bed.
Identify the weeds growing in the soil bed, if possible. Observe whether they are broadleaf or grassy weeds and if they flower. Some weeds grow in winter, so observe during cooler weather as well as during the warmer months. Take pictures, if necessary, and use an online weed guide or garden book to help with their identification. This information helps determine when they germinate and what herbicides are effective.
Hand-pull weeds and their roots from the flower bed before planting. Alternatively, apply the nonselective herbicide glyphosate to the entire bed to kill everything growing in it. In two weeks, till or hoe the soil about 4 to 6 inches deep. At this time, add any amendments, such as weed-free compost, to the soil.
Spray a pre-emergent herbicide, if applicable, that is labeled specifically for the weeds that were growing in your garden. These herbicides are time-sensitive and must be applied just before the weeds are expected to germinate. Summer annual weeds, for example, germinate in the spring so apply a pre-emergent herbicide as the soil begins to warm but before they sprout.
Water the soil with ½ inch of water and wait a week. If weeds germinate, hand-pull them or till them into the soil about 3 to 4 inches deep. You can also apply an appropriate post-emergent herbicide to kill them.
Lay a weed or landscape fabric down before planting the flower bed. Cut “X’s” in the fabric, fold back the flaps and plant the flowers. Plant flowers close together, using the smallest distance recommendation for the type of flower. The flowers will fill in more quickly, leaving little room for weeds.
Apply approximately 3 to 4 inches of mulch to help suppress weeds that require light to germinate. Grass clippings, wood chips, bark and leaf mold work well. Replenish throughout the year as necessary.
- Iowa State University Extension: Weed Control in the Home Garden
- North Carolina State University: Weed Management in Annual Color Beds
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: Weed Management in Landscapes
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: Weeds in Landscapes
- You can also lay clear plastic over the flower bed and leave it in place for two months before planting a flower bed. This works best during hot weather from June until August. Most active weeds, roots and seeds die during this time, so you can plant a weed-free flower bed.
- Water your flower bed deeply with 1 inch of water about once or twice a week, depending on the flowers. Watering more frequently with less water will encourage weeds.
Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
By: Kasandra Rose
21 September, 2017
Rectangular flowerbeds may consist of an island bed surrounded by lawn or paths, a border garden with its back against a fence or property line, or a raised bed. There are advantages to each type of garden bed. Border gardens can help to hide unsightly fencing, island beds are easy to access from all sides, and raised beds ease back strain by reducing the distance that gardeners must bend over.
An annual flowerbed won’t feature early spring flowers but will have flowers all summer long once they start blooming. Begin planning your rectangular garden with edging plants, such as begonias, in the front. Place petunias or snapdragons behind the edging plants. Create some focal points with groupings of tall plants such as gladioli, cosmos or sunflowers towards the center of the bed, then fill the spaces between with plants including marigolds, zinnias, African daisies, geraniums and stocks. Depending on your personal preferences, you can plant flowers of similar colors, or create a flower rainbow.
You can achieve a very formal look with some perennial shrubs and herbs that have a compact, neat appearance, such as lavender or Potentilla. Or create a more natural look with mid-season blooming perennial plants such as tickseed coreopsis, butterfly bush and mints like bergamot. Place tall plants–such as butterfly bush–in the center of your rectangular bed. Group three or more medium-sized plants–such as purple coneflower–together in the middle ground, and plant shorter perennials in the front, such as dragon’s blood sedum. With a bit of planning, you can have flowers in bloom all season long. Windflowers and crocus will bloom early in the spring, daffodils mid spring, and tulips late spring. Add some late fall blooming perennials such as asters and sedum “Autumn Joy” to have a complete growing season of blooms.
- An annual flowerbed won’t feature early spring flowers but will have flowers all summer long once they start blooming.
- You can achieve a very formal look with some perennial shrubs and herbs that have a compact, neat appearance, such as lavender or Potentilla.
Rectangular flowerbeds lend themselves to raised bed gardening. The material that you use to create the raised bed will affect its durability and appearance. Cement blocks create an urban look but with the proper flowering plants–especially those that arch and break the plane of the cement blocks–the final look can be more casual and attractive. Wood-edged raised beds create an earthy, country look in the garden, if you allow the wood to age naturally, or can provide an oriental look if they’re treated with a cherry stain. Painting the blocks or wood can change the whole appearance of the raised bed. Lighter colors can help reflect light in darker corners while darker colors will heat up the soil sooner in the spring.
If the rectangular garden is located in a less prominent position, planting cut flowers in an island raised bed allows you access to cut flowers for bouquets without compressing the soil. Some flowers are better suited for cutting. Zinnias are a classic cut-flower favorite. There are many varieties, colors and sizes of zinnia including some species that are referred to as “cut and come again” because of their prolific blooms. Other cut-flower favorites include roses and bulbs. When selecting roses, look for straight stemmed varieties instead of climbing types. Many bulbs are appropriate cut flowers. With some planning for bloom time, daffodils, tulips, gladiolas, crocosmia and other bulbs can contribute most of the summer to a cut-flower garden.
When considering a garden beneath a tree, it is important to keep a few rules in mind. Otherwise, your garden may not flourish and you could injure the tree. So what plants or flowers grow well under a tree? Read on to learn more about growing gardens under trees.
Basics of Growing Gardens Under Trees
Below are some of the basic guidelines to keep in mind when planting under trees.
Do trim away lower branches. Trimming away a few of the lower branches will give you more space for planting and allow light to come under the tree. Even if the plants you want to use are shade tolerant, they too need a little light to survive.
Don’t build a raised bed. Most gardeners make a mistake of building a raised bed around the base of the tree in an attempt to create better soil for the flowers. Unfortunately, when doing this they can harm or even kill the tree. Most all trees have surface roots that require oxygen to survive. When compost, soil, and mulch are piled up thick around a tree, it suffocates the roots and allows no oxygen to get to them. This can also cause the roots and lower trunk of the tree to decay. Although you will have a nice flower bed, in a few years the tree will be nearly dead.
Do plant in holes. When planting under trees, give each plant its own hole. Carefully dug holes will avoid damage to the tree’s shallow root system. Each hole can be filled with composted organic matter to help benefit the plant. A thin layer of mulch, no more than 3 inches (8 cm.), can then be spread around the base of the tree and plants.
Don’t plant large plants. Large and spreading plants can easily take over a garden under the tree. Tall plants will grow too high for the area and start trying to grow through the tree’s lower branches while large plants will also block the sunlight and view of other smaller plants in the garden. Stick with small, low growing plants for best results.
Do water the flowers after planting. When just planted, flowers do not have established roots, which makes it difficult to get water, especially when competing with the tree’s roots. For the first couple of weeks after planting, water daily on days it does not rain.
Don’t damage the roots when planting. When digging new holes for plants, don’t damage the roots of the tree. Try to make holes for small plants just large enough to fit them in between roots. If you hit a large root while digging, fill the hole back in and dig in a new location. Be very careful not to split major roots up. Using small plants and a hand shovel is best to cause as little disturbance as possible to the tree.
Do plant the right plants. Certain flowers and plants do better than others when planted under a tree. Also, be sure to plant flowers that will grow in your planting zone.
What Plants or Flowers Grow Well Under Trees?
Here is a list of some common flowers to plant under trees.
- Bleeding heart
- Merry bells
- Wild ginger
- Sweet woodruff
- Barren strawberry
- Butterfly weed
- Black-eyed susan
- Coral bells
- Shooting star
Raised beds let you control the quality of the soil and prolong the growing season by warming up early in spring and staying warm late into fall. You can make raised flower beds by piling up soil, or by build low walls using basic DIY skills. Gardening in raised beds is helpful for people with bad backs and other mobility problems, and the soil is never walked on, so it doesn’t become compacted. Use the raised beds for annual or perennial flowers.
Simple Raised Beds
One of the simplest ways to create a raised flower bed is to pile up soil onto an existing bed. If your garden soil is sandy or clay, mix it with an equal amount of compost, well-rotted manure or other fine organic matter before spreading it on the bed. Loosen the existing bed’s soil with a garden fork, and spread more soil on top to the desired height. Most plant roots need soil 6 to 12 inches deep, and the bed should be no more than 4 feet wide so that you can reach into the middle to tend to the plants. Without walls to contain the piled-up soil, the flower bed is at risk of flattening over time when heavy rain washes soil down the sides. Grow perennial flowers because their roots help hold the soil in place, and spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch, avoiding the plant stems, to protect the soil from heavy rain.
- Raised beds let you control the quality of the soil and prolong the growing season by warming up early in spring and staying warm late into fall.
- Most plant roots need soil 6 to 12 inches deep, and the bed should be no more than 4 feet wide so that you can reach into the middle to tend to the plants.
Timber Raised Beds
A raised flower bed made of timber has a rustic look. Redwood and cedar wood are naturally rot-resistant. Pressure-treated lumber bought after 2004 is safe to use, and creosote-treated wood, such as railroad ties, is safe if the creosote is no longer oozing and you can’t smell it. If you’re worried about chemicals from treated wood harming your flowers, line the inner walls of the raised bed with heavy plastic. To prepare the site, mow or cut down any grass or weeds, and break up the soil surface with a garden fork or spade. Place lengths of timber at the bed edges to the desired height, and arrange them in a staggered pattern at the corners to give added strength. Drill holes through the timber layers vertically every 4 feet, and 6 to 8 inches away from the corners. Hammer pieces of rebar through the holes and into the ground below to hold the timber walls in place.
- A raised flower bed made of timber has a rustic look.
- To prepare the site, mow or cut down any grass or weeds, and break up the soil surface with a garden fork or spade.
Brick or Stone Beds
Brick, stone and other hardscaping materials create long-lasting, stylish raised flower beds. Brick and stone walls 1 to 2 feet tall around a raised bed don’t require special ground preparation or mortar. To build brick walls, create a flat foundation for the walls by filling in hollows or removing soil from raised areas. Check the foundation is flat using a builder’s level. Place the bricks to create the lowest layer of the wall, and place the bricks for the second layer in a staggered pattern, so each brick lies across a joint between two bricks below. For natural stone raised bed walls, a perfectly level surface is less important but the ground should be fairly level. Stack the stones so they fit closely. Take time to ensure a secure, firm fit. Build brick and stone raised bed walls to the desired height, but no taller than 2 feet.
- Brick, stone and other hardscaping materials create long-lasting, stylish raised flower beds.
- For natural stone raised bed walls, a perfectly level surface is less important but the ground should be fairly level.
Double digging is optional when building raised flower beds, but it provides a deep, rich growing zone for plant roots. Remove the soil in the raised bed area to the depth of your spade’s blade, and place the soil on a tarpaulin or similar sheet to reduce mess. The soil at the base of the bed will probably be subsoil, which is a different color and texture than topsoil. Break up the all the subsoil by pushing a garden fork into it, and levering up the fork. Mix the removed topsoil with an equal amount of fine organic matter, such as peat moss or compost, and return the topsoil to the bed, before building the walls for the raised beds.
There’s something that doesn’t feel right about leaves naturally falling from trees only to be stuffed into plastic garbage bags and dumped by the millions into landfills. Biodegradable paper leaf bags offer a partial solution. But wouldn’t it be better to simply use those leaves instead of treating them as trash? Because leaves break down and contain a lot of carbon, they make great mulch, compost, and even lawn fertilizer.
The key to using leaves in your landscape is to shred them first, which you can do with a mulching lawnmower or a leaf vacuum mulcher. If you don’t shred them, they won’t completely break down over the winter, and you’ll have to rake them up in the spring. It’s also not healthy for lawns to be covered with a mat of whole leaves.
Here are five ways to use those shredded leaves around your landscape.
Leaves are a great source of brown, high-carbon material for the compost pile. Simply alternate layers of shredded leaves with the regular green materials you’d add to your compost pile, such as vegetable and fruit scraps, weeds, grass clippings, and plants that you pull out in your fall garden cleanup. Let all of that sit over the winter. Aerate or turn the pile as needed, and by planting time in the spring, you’ll have finished compost.
Make Leaf Mold
Leaf mold is a wonderful soil amendment that is made from nothing more than fall leaves with a layer of garden soil or finished compost. The pile sits for about a year. And when it’s finished, you have the perfect amendment for vegetable and flower gardens as well as a fantastic addition to potting soil.
After you shred the leaves, they can be used as an organic mulch in flower beds and vegetable gardens, around trees and shrubs, and in containers. Simply apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of shredded leaves to the beds, keeping the mulch from directly touching the stems and trunks of the plants. The mulch retains moisture in the soil, helps to maintain a consistent soil temperature, and limits weed seed germination. As a bonus, the leaves add nutrients to the soil as they break down.
Once all the leaf cleanup is finished in the fall, you might not want to see another leaf again. But when spring rolls around and you’re in the garden pruning and weeding again, you’ll have an excess of greens for the compost pile but not enough dry materials, such as fall leaves. However, if you’ve thought ahead and hoarded a garbage bag or two of fall leaves over the winter, you won’t have any problem making perfect compost in the spring. The dry leaves will help to prevent your compost from becoming a soggy mess.
There really is no reason to rake all the leaves off your lawn. If you run over them with a mower, they’ll break down over the winter, providing your soil with nutrients and suppressing weeds. If you do this once a week until the leaves have finished falling, you likely won’t have to rake a single leaf, and your lawn will look better for it next spring and summer. However, keep in mind this requires a mulching lawnmower, which cuts grass clippings into small enough pieces that can be left on the lawn rather than being collected and bagged. The same design works with leaves. Most modern lawnmowers have mulching capability, and older mowers can be converted to mulchers by installing a mulching blade.
The way crape myrtles look in February and March is a travesty (a distorted representation of a tree) and a tragedy (an event causing great suffering destruction and distress) to the individual plants. To what am I referring, but the way the trees get brutally whacked and chopped by loppers and saws, and then get loaded into a large trailer adding to the landfill!! If they are too tall, pull them out and plant shorter varieties, but Crape Myrtles rarely or never need pruning.
Crape Myrtles are TREES and that means they grow TALL from 20 – 40’ in height. They have been lovingly referred to as the Lilac of the South (with no fragrance) with a very long bloom time in the summer. Crape myrtles have wonderful exfoliating bark in late spring/early summer that as a kid, I loved to peel off the trunk to reveal a beautiful, velvety, cinnamon colored trunk. The leaves also provide great fall color from yellow to orange to red if the weather cooperates. So here we have a plant that give us an exceptionally long summer bloom period, great fall foliage (not many trees do that here) and a beautiful sculptured trunk when allowed to grow naturally.
There are two types of Crape Myrtle frequently planted; there is Lagerstroemia indica and Lagerstroemia hybrid (indica x fauriei). The first species L. indica has small round leaves and is terribly susceptible to powdery mildew which is a white powder that causes the leaves to curl up and distort, stops photosynthesis and occurs in spring AND fall. Powdery mildew must be sprayed with several fungicide applications OR you can plant the National Arboretum Hybrids which are totally resistant to powdery mildew.
The Hybrid Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei, (Indian Tribe Hybrids and named so) was started by Dr. Donald Egolf of the National Arboretum beginning in 1959. He started a research project to develop disease resistance (powdery mildew), hardiness (because fauriei species was more frost tender that indica) rebloomers, true flower color and unique inheritable dark trunk colors. The hybrid crape is easily distinguished from the species as it has larger rectangle leaves, larger flowers and flower clusters and is totally resistant to powdery mildew – never spray fungicide again!
Some of the National Arboretum hybrids you may be familiar with are:
Muskogee – to 30’ – light lavender flower – red orange fall color
Tuscarora – to 20’ – dark coral pink flower – red orange fall color
Natchez – to 30’ – white flower – cinnamon colored trunk – yellow to red to orange fall color
Arapaho – 20-30’ – true red flower – maroon tinged leaves
Fantasy – 25-40’ – white flower, fragrance emits a sweet nectar for bees, cinnamon trunk
If you do not have the space for a 20 or 30 foot tree try using one of the shrub or dwarf varieties.
Chickasaw – 1-3’ shrub – light lavender pink
Chica – 2-4’ shrub – deep red
Pokomoke – 3-5’ shrub – deep rose pink
Hopi – 5-10’ large shrub – clear light pink
Dynamite – 6-8’ dense shrub – true red
Acoma – 6-10’ – white flowers – semi- dwarf weeping habit
Catawba – 8-10’ – violet purple – dense shrub
CRAPE MYRTLE TIPS:
1) Do not plant in the flower beds next to the house; INSTEAD use a tall variety in the middle of the yard to provide summer shade on the west side of the house.
2) Crape Myrtles are either single trunk or multi-trunked and it can take a long time to turn a multi trunk into a single trunk, so purchase single trunk to begin with if that is what you need.
3) Plant the hybrids with the large leaves to avoid powdery mildew in the spring and fall.
4) Crape Myrtles need at least 6 hours of DIRECT SUN for good, long summer bloom.
5) Watch for Crape Myrtle Asian Bark Scale, it turns the trunks completely black and must be treated systemically and topically. Severe pruning seems to attract these sucking insects.
6) Pruning should only be done when trees are young to shape the tree by removing crossing and rubbing branches and dead wood. You could remove seed heads in the winter but this is how all the abuse started, because it was too time consuming to snip the tips and progressed into the crape murder we have come to recognize today. (If you have trees that have been chopped down to shoulder or waist height, remove it for it will never be beautiful again.)
Finally, you be the teacher and help educate those holding the chain saws and pruners to stop the horrible disfiguring of our beautiful sculptured trees and know, no pruning is necessary if the trees have never been pruned.
Have a great spring!!
Written by Linda Gay Linda received her Associates Degree in Horticulture from Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC. She moved to Houston the summer of 1979 and worked in the commercial green industry until 1985. October 1985 Linda stared at Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens and retired in May 2011. She was the director for 11 years. Linda is first and foremost a gardener, constantly manipulating soils and putting new plants in the garden, always learning and growing. She has killed plants every which way you can and this experience has made me a plant expert. After 6 months of retirement Linda was very fortuitous and landed in the coolest gardener’s paradise, The Arbor Gate in Tomball, Texas.