Acidic soil beneath spruce tree calls for hardy shrub and ground cover
A question that I am asked more than most is what to grow under a spruce tree. Recently, an e mail question reminded me just how common this problem is in gardening. I thought we could devote a column to answering just that question.
Question of the Week
Q: We havehave Flyers new jerseys 2014
a very tall, mature spruce tree that grows next to our lake cottage.cottage. cheap Flyers jerseys
Nothing, including grass we recently planted, will grow under this tree. I would like to plant something underneath the tree.
How exactly do I do this without damaging the tree's root system? How much can I build up the soil under the tree? What do I do about getting rid of weeds that are growing right beside the trunk? Because of the lack of lower limbs, the area is quite sunny. What can I plant there that would grow in a relatively shallow bed?
A: The reason the grass is dead is due to the acidic condition of the soil. This condition is a result of the spruce needles that turn the soil acidic. So no matter what you plant under the tree, it willwill wholesale cheap Flyers jerseys china
have to be a plant suited for acidic soil.
Planting in and around the roots of a very mature spruce can be a challenge but it can be done. Top dressing the area is a good idea. I would not add much more than five to 7.5 centimetres of soil. Adding too much soil at once can actually suffocate some of the surface roots.
Once you have added the soil, you will need to decide where youyou cheap Flyers jerseys from china
are going to plant. The spruce will dictate where that will be. You will not be able to plant very close to the trunk of the tree, so that should be reserved for a shallow rooted ground cover.
You will have to explore the area under the tree. Try digging with a small hand shovel.
If you hit a large root, mark it with a stick. You will not be able to plant on top of the large roots. However, if you find a smaller root system you can plant there. Cutting through the small surface roots will not harm the tree if the planting hole is not too large.
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for shrubs in one gallon pots. The size of hole needed to accommodate a one gallon root ball is a tolerable size.
Now, what type of plants will fit the criteria of acid conditions, be shallow rooted and tolerant of the spruce's roots? There are not many, but there is a combination that I have had success with and it looks terrific.
Northern Lights azaleas will tolerate the conditions if you keep them well watered. These are small shrubs that aren't more than a metre tall and they actually compete with the spruce roots fairly well. The benefit of growing the azaleas is the spectacular bloom in the spring.
They come in a variety of colours: orchid, pink, rosy pink, white, lemon yellow, orange and yellow orange. I would put three to five of these under the spruce.
Combine the azaleas with a ground cover of sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum). This plant is rated as semi hardy for our area, but mine has been growing for eight years now. It forms a dense mat of dark green that is very attractive. In the spring, the woodruff blooms with tiny white flowers. When crushed, the leaves have a fragrance reminiscent of timothy hay.
I must admit that I now use containers to fill in under the spruces. Containergrown plants can be placed as desired and you can grow whatever type of plant you like. The plants will not have to compete with the spruce's root system because they have their own pot.
Adding splashes of colour from flowering annuals can make a real impact when they are grown in a container under a spruce. Also, you can fertilize your plants without wondering how much of the application ended up in the spruce's system. By using a slow release fertilizer in the containers, you know the fertilizer is reaching only the intended plant.