Gardening Under the Trees

Last Updated on July 25, 2020 by Daniel Cooper

Gardening Under the Trees: Lack of light, lack of water, dry soil, poor and full of roots. The growing conditions under the big trees make gardening a real challenge. Do not get discouraged and think about the huge spring carpets of bluebells.  Many plants are fun under the trees, and with a little experience, you will overcome these constraints to create a beautiful garden.

Gardening Under the Trees

Mastering the Formidable Competition of Trees

To Penetrate the Light

The most obvious constraint when gardening under trees is the lack of light. The antlers of the trees are covered with leaves in the summer and prevent the sun’s rays from reaching the plants below.

Light is the vital energy of plants, and even if some species have adapted to relatively dark environments, care must be taken to keep the maximum clarity to the ground. Only then can planting opportunities to be diversified.

To achieve this, there are not 50 solutions: you have to cut. It’s not about cutting anyhow and without discernment. A simple pruning of the lower branches helps clear the horizon and let the morning and evening sunlight the undergrowth. These few hours of direct sun are sufficient for many plants.

Gardening Under the Trees

In heavily wooded situations, if this simple operation is not enough, consider removing one or more trees. Take the time to observe before cutting. The goal is to create a skylight that illuminates the largest space possible. Do not sacrifice the most beautiful trees, those with a majestic port, those that are rare or promising.

Instead, select over-crowded species, diseased, damaged, or about to fall trees. Of course, it is best to start with these pruning and felling operations before planting because it is obvious that the fall of a large branch or tree can do big damage.

The brightness is very variable also with the seasons. Observe which are the brightest places after the leaves fall, when there is only persistent foliage. Plants have learned to share light resources in time and space.

Some develop during the rest period of deciduous trees and thus benefit from the available light. This is particularly the case for many spring bulbs that flower and complete their cycle of vegetation before the buds of trees hatch.

Optimize the Water Resource

Even more, than for the light, the competition of the trees is ruthless with regard to the water. Firstly, when it rains, a significant part of the rainfall is intercepted by tree crowns (leaves and branches) and never reaches the ground.

In addition, the powerful roots of trees pump huge quantities of water into the soil, especially in the summer, when leaf transpiration is maximal. This is the reason why the soil at the foot of the trees and often very dry.

Gardening Under the Trees

This is the major difficulty that can be encountered by gardening in these conditions. How then to help plants to settle?

First Step: we must treat the plantation more than ever. The planting hole should be very wide and deep, at least double the root ball. Fill it with a mixture of garden soil and compost.

In this privileged environment, the plant must be able to escape the competition of trees temporarily. She will be able to find the resources to settle down and gradually learn how to get herself everything she needs.

After that, water needs to be carefully monitored and watered if plants suffer. Do not try to water precisely at the foot of each plant. Indeed, the roots of trees will quickly feel if there are areas wetter than others and they will soon develop to draw it.

It is more efficient to water evenly over the entire cultivated area. The roots of trees will not be encouraged to explore the soil near your plantations.

Gardening Under the Trees

Maintain Soil Rich in Humus

Trees are also the first to use nutrients. It is therefore essential to continue to make contributions of organic matter regularly at the foot of the plants. For example, you can add a good layer of compost or manure once a year. In autumn, leaves that fall to the ground play an important role in maintaining a good level of organic matter.

It is important to leave them there. If you need to clean the garden paths, consider spreading dead leaves and other plant debris in the beds. This humus supply will be very beneficial as it helps the soil to retain water and nutrients.

Plants Adapted to the Situation

To create a beautiful garden in the undergrowth area, you have to know how to choose plants adapted to these particular conditions. Be careful to know how to interpret the labels on garden plants.

The pictogram ‘ shadow ‘ does not mean much in reality, except that the plant can flourish in a dim location. But there is shade and shade. So we must target dry shade plants, able to withstand the competition of large trees.


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