Gardening Under Trees – Family Plot

Alright, Ms. Carol. Let’s talk about
growing under trees. How difficult is that? – Well, it can be
very difficult. There’s a lotta challenges,
to growing under trees. Shade, first and foremost, for those plants, we
know, need sunlight. But to me, one of
the great challenges, is the competition
from the tree roots. – (Chris)
Right. – So, people… You know, they wanna come in,
and bring a lotta topsoil! – (Chris)
They sure do. (chuckles) – And that’s not good for trees. Tree roots do need oxygen. So, you need to
be thinkin’ about, yes, I do agree we need some
sort of substrate there, for those plants
to get purchased. But, I’ll bring in somethin’
very light, and fluffy. In this area, it
might be gin trash. You might find some
composted sawdust, if you have mills near you. Any kind of light, fluffy
composted type soil, is great, to bring in and help get those
plants established. And I’ll just mound it up a bit, and put the plants in there. And then, remember, they’re gonna have to
have lots of water, because that light, fluffy soil
is goin’ to dry out quickly. Plus, the tree roots are
suckin’ the moisture. And trees, you know, steal
all that water, and moisture. It’s really important, too, if you do want
to till something, I try, I really don’t. I don’t recommend
that you go in there, and till up those tree roots. Though, some people will. They’ll put it in
their little pocket, and he can handle that. It can manage that. But, how much disturbance
can a tree handle? And, to me, a general
rule of thumb, or even if I’m gonna cover up
tree roots, for some reason, is if I can keep it
less than 30 percent, of that tree root area. Then, that tree is gonna
be able to handle it. – Less than 30, okay. – 30 percent, somewhere
right in there. Once we start
gettin’ up to half, we’re really
challenging that tree, because people
forget about that. Trees have to have
that air exchange. – (Chris)
Right. And you’re exactly
right about that. I try to mention that
to folks all the time. And here’s somethin’ else
I see around town as well. They use the heavy mulches, and they wanna plant their
annuals, right in that mulch. – (Carol)
Yes. – And then, they
water it, to death. – (Carol)
Yes. – And usually, what happens, is that mulch is up against
the trunk of the tree. So, of course, you’re
doing all that watering. – Right. – It starts to decay, of course. You know, around that tree. – Yeah, you need a balance,
between moisture retention, and good drainage,
and air exchange. So, findin’ that right
material is crucial. And then, of course,
pickin’ the right plants. Some people wanna put a vigorous
ground cover, under trees, and I say, no, you don’t! A vigorous ground cover is
gonna take over the world, and there’s gonna, unless, you just never
want a garden there, again. – (Chris)
(chuckles) Okay! – Because, they don’t
know when to stop. The ground cover is not gonna
stop, at the edge of the tree, and go, okay, I’ve
done my work here. it’s gonna either, some
things will climb the tree, like English ivy, and some things will continue
out, into your turf areas, or swamp, any of your
ferns, hostas, or hydrangeas. – (Chris)
But yeah, I always wondered, the big
fascination of growing things under trees, like that, though, especially when you have
these big oak trees, that we have here,
in Shelby County. – (Carol)
Well, because it’s a beautiful
place to garden. I love to quote. A lotta people remember,
probably, Plato Touliatos, that the lowest maintenance
garden, in the south, is a woodland garden. ‘Cause he said, ’cause the
south “wants to be woods.” That doesn’t mean,
there aren’t challenges. Certainly, there will
be some weed control, and that kind of thing. But, it’s certainly easier,
to edit that garden, in the shade, than it would
be, out in the hot sun. And you’re gonna have
less disease pressure. And you’re gonna enjoy
your garden more! If you have a shade
garden, let’s face it, who wants to go out
there, and garden in July? – (Chris)
(chuckles) Exactly right! – You know, I’m not gonna be
out there, nearly as much. I love shade. I grew up with shade. And I think a house
should have shade. (clears throat) For
some, for sometimes, it’s very important,
to think about, actually, for
conservation purposes, because we’re
minimizing the best way, that you can lower
your electric bills, is to get shade on the house. That’s the number one way. – (Chris)
Wow. – So, I know, here, in
Memphis we’re just nervous about trees over the house, because we’ve had, what’s
the most recent storm, and then, Hurricane
Elvis, a few years ago. But, there are certainly
things that you can do. The types of trees,
that you choose, can also be safer, but there, certainly gardening under
trees is a great way to go. It just takes, I’ll
be speaking on that, at our summer celebration. Thank you, again, for that wonderful
information, Ms. Carol. We always appreciate that. – Glad to do it.

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