How to Create Flower Beds Around Trees

Watch out for trunk rot!A flower bed makes the base of any tree look much more striking.

But planting a flower bed at the base of a tree can be especially difficult because there’s limited root space to work with. Further complicating things is the fact that when a tree’s roots start growing out of the soil, they get accustomed to the open air, which means that simply covering them back up with soil can lead to infections and possibly even the death of the tree.

It takes special care to plant a flower bed around a tree without doing any damage. Here’s how to do it the right way:

1. Remove all grass and any other plants below the tree

Water and nutrients don’t know the difference between your flowers and other plants. They just go where they go.

Remove the grass and any other plants that are already rooted where you plan to put your flower bed – that way, all of the water and nutrients in the soil will go to your flowers and only your flowers.

Rip up everything but the tree roots.

2. Plant your flowers around the roots

As stated above, when roots are exposed long enough, putting them back in the ground is no longer an option (not if you want the tree to remain healthy, anyway). So you’ll have to plant around them.

You’ll need flowers that can tolerate both the shade of being under a tree and the drought conditions of being in San Diego.

The following flowering plants work particularly well:

  • Pitcher sage (Salvia spathacea)
  • Sulfur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum)
  • Ice plant (Delosperma)
  • Red monardella
  • Sedum
  • Baccharis

3. Add mulch

Next, add a layer of mulch just over the roots. Don’t put any mulch within 6 inches of the trunk, though, as this can lead to trunk rot.

4. Build a border

You don’t want foot traffic damaging the roots you went to such great lengths to protect, do you? (You don’t.)

To stop that from happening, build a border around your new flower bed. This can be a low wooden fence or, for a more affordable option, loose stones arranged in a circle. Whatever it’s made out of, build something that will keep people from stomping all over your precious plants.

Have any questions about flower beds or any other landscaping topic? Feel free to contact us and ask.

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Clarke Ramsey
Landscape Artist. I help landscaping dreams come to live. I create raving fans and give my customers the highest quality product available.
Clarke Ramsey
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