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Plant Care | Planting under Trees

Maureen Sexsmith-West ISA Certified Arborist PR4600A

Advice for plating under trees


As an arborist I love trees.  As a person I also love gardens and flowers.

If we consider things in nature – grass rarely grows under trees in a forest and trees rarely grow in the open spaces of the prairies.  In urban areas, we try to combine all or our passions in one 40×125 lot.

No wonder we have issues.  Some of my colleagues may describe tree problems as “death by flowers” or “step on the flowers to get to the good stuff”. I am afraid the client might have a significantly different opinion on that.

What about watering the plants?

Trees’ watering needs are totally different than your turf or flowers.  They require deep watering compared to the frequent watering their shallow rooted neighbours do. Landscapers seem to insist on putting competing plants in their designs, mulch right up to the trunk with inorganic and organic matter.  Another area I find is the placement of drip lines (right against the plant – WRONG!)  Drip heads should be a the “DRIP LINE” or at the outside edge of the plant.  Provision should be made with the line to allow for increasing relocation as the tree grows and for the introduction of more lines to reach the entire circumference of the root system. If you live in the Lethbridge area and want an independent opinion, I would love to review your landscape plans to help avoid some of these issues that can affect the long term health and costs for tree care. It would be wonderful if all communities had an advocacy group like this.  This article from Tree Pittsburgh provides sound advice when considering planting trees with flowers and turf.   www.treepittsburgh.org/resources/tree-pit-gardening

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