May 16th is National Love A Tree Day! Find your favorite tree and shower it with love today. Take the time to eliminate any nearby weeds, give it some fertilizer, water it, or give it a trim. Yes, you can even give it a hug!
If you spent any of your youth climbing trees, building treehouses, or just exploring forests, you know the gift trees are giving to the world. Not only are they beautiful and natural playgrounds, they play a substantial role in reducing erosion, producing oxygen, and moderating the climate by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Mature trees can bring beauty and shade to your landscape. However, the earth around their trunks can become an eyesore as their roots tend to drink up all the water, and their branches prevent sunlight from reaching the soil. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to add some beauty to the base of your trees while maintaining their health and making your lawn look fabulous.
Check out our tips for designing a beautiful yard full of trees.
Shade Loving Plants
The area surrounding a tree can end up devoid of life due to a lack of water and sunlight, but there are plants that can thrive in these conditions. You can create a gorgeous garden around the base of your tree by using plants that do well with limited sun like Coleus, Bracken Ferns, Eastern Red Columbine, Smooth Solomon’s Seal, Spreading Dogbane, Drummond’s Ruellia, or the Coralberry shrub. These will do well under the heavy shade of a tree while providing a beautiful garden that highlights the tree’s presence.
It’s important to add two or three inches of mulch around the base of new plants to help them retain moisture that the tree’s roots would normally absorb. You can also use planters that can be moved around if they need more sun or as the seasons change.
Instead of removing a tree to construct a living area, you can build your patio or deck around an existing tree to give you the best of both worlds: a landscaped living area with plenty of shade.
Be sure not to crowd the tree’s trunk when building around it. The inside perimeter of a deck should be a minimum of two feet from the trunk to allow for growth. For a patio, the inside border should be three to seven feet away from the trunk, in order to give the roots enough surface area to absorb water. Plants or rocks can be used to decorate the space between the border and the tree.
Plants around the base of a tree require maintenance and regular watering. If you don’t have the time to care for them, consider an arrangement of rocks as an alternative. Rocks work great for trees with shallow or above ground roots that would prevent plantings.
Create a border of larger stones to keep small ones from rolling into your lawn and becoming lawnmower projectiles. Use different stones and contrasting colors to create a pattern or even a specific design. Be sure to leave eight to ten inches around the base of the tree.
Whatever you choose to do with your treescape, the most important part of beautifying the area around your trees is ensuring the tree’s health. A stunning garden surrounding a dying tree defeats the point. While you’re out there, take a minute to give a tree a hug!