lawn around tree

I have a big oak tree in my backyard. The lawn(bermuda) around the tree is struggling though I have been making extra effeort on that area in the last years. So I am having this idea of get rid of the grass abound the tree root and create a raised bed there to plant some shade-like plants. After some internet search, I found that it is not recommended because it may do harm to the tree. It is suggested just put mulch lightly around the tree root. But that looks a little dull and I really want to make it nice-looking. Any good suggestions? Thanks.
Jay
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On Wed, 02 Feb 2005 15:04:13 -0600, Jay wrote:

Good day Jay. How big will this bed be? I'm assuming that this bed will be of good size. If you can keep this bed less than 3 inches deep, you *should* be able to get away with it. (*Your mileage may vary). Also see if you can limit the length of the bed to minimize the covering of the root zone. And lastly, keep the new top soil and multch away from the tree's trunk.
I've been called to deal with this issue once.The tree was a large 80+ foot cedar and the lawn was just gone. I overlayed 1 to 3 inchs of top soil around the base of the tree. I graded the soil in small mounds that were streched out in teardrop shapes in a large circle around the tree's base. This bed was ten feet in length and about 30 feet in circumference?... Can't remember now. Just remember it was large. I used 4 maybe 5 yards of soil. Customer had me plant native plant. Wild bleeding hearts, trillium, one goats beard, deer ferns and wild ginger. It really fires off well in the spring but by summer I'm laying a yard or two of finely ground fir bark. I lay it right over the bleeding hearts and trilliums that have faded to the ground. Easy clean up 80)
Good luck. - Yard Works Gardening Co. http://www.ywgc.com
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Hi Jay,
The problem with mulch (or any other organic material including soil) around the trunk is that the tree may girdle itself by running a root runner around it's own trunk. That can be fatal.
So, you can put a raised bed around the tree if you include a protective ring in the middle that keeps the mulch/soil off the tree trunk.
If it is a large oak as you describe there is no problem with burying the roots near the trunk, staying away from the trunk as above, just don't bury the ones at the drip line as they are the nutrient seeking roots and need to be near the surface.
Good luck.
John
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says... :) I have a big oak tree in my backyard. The lawn(bermuda) around the tree is :) struggling though I have been making extra effeort on that area in the last :) years. So I am having this idea of get rid of the grass abound the tree root :) and create a raised bed there to plant some shade-like plants. After some :) internet search, I found that it is not recommended because it may do harm :) to the tree. It is suggested just put mulch lightly around the tree root. :) But that looks a little dull and I really want to make it nice-looking. Any :) good suggestions? Thanks. :) :) :) It's easy enough to lay out a border then use ground covers like Asian Jasmine, English Ivy or Mondo grass assuming it will grow where you are at. Here is a couple of pics of Ivy and mondo grass.
http://www.arrow-pestcontrol.com/j.htm
--
Lar

to email....get rid of the BUGS
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or ajuga, pachasandra, violets, sedum, vinca
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Cleaning up the fallen leaves from pachasandra or English ivy is a real pain in the neck. Both look real good under trees though.
-al sung
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You could use planters or potted plants. It is not good to change the ground level around a tree.
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Jay wrote:

If this is a native oak (growing naturally, not planted) and you are in the western U.S., you can kill the tree by gardening under it.
First of all, the tree should not be watered at all in the summer. In the winter, you can give it one or two soakings BUT ONLY IF there is a draught. Otherwise, native western oaks should be allowed to go dry except for winter rains.
The best mulch for a western oak is the leaves it drops. Other leaves can be added. Don't pack them down. To keep them in place, you can sprinkle them very lightly with water. Eventually, the leafs will decompose into leafmold. Western oaks thrive on this. It keeps the soil cool in the summer and helps retain winter moisture through the year.
If you must really plant under the tree, start with very small plants that don't need much digging when you plant them. These should be natives that will survive with a lack of summer water. Watering around a naturally growing western oak will cause the tree to rot and die. Also, the plants should be able to thrive without added nutrients. Fertilizers (especially high-nitrogen) will also kill western oaks.
However, if the tree was planted from a nursery container, it should be able to withstand summer water and some fertilizer. It should still be mulched with its own leaves. The soil within its drip zone (the area under its branches) should be disturbed only infrequently and not more than the top 6 inches. Plants around such a tree should be suitable for the tree's environment: tall enough to grow through the mulch, need only a little water in summer, need only light feeding.
You can indeed have a lawn up to the trunk of a planted western oak, but you need a grass that will do well in shade and part-shade (not Bermuda). A lawn will substitute for mulch.
The major difference between a native oak and a planted oak is that the former has a taproot while the latter generally has had the taproot cut while being moved from a seedling container into a larger container. Western oaks growing naturally require that their natural environment prevail: lean soil and dry summers. This is not true for planted oaks whose taproots were removed while still young.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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It is not true for many of the European oaks even when the taproot is NOT cut. There is no problem gardening under them, except for the fact that they cut out the rain and light. Generally, however, there is little point in growing much except (mediocre) lawn and deep woodland plants (including cyclamen) under trees that cast a heavy shadow.
I should be surprised if the same were not true of SOME American oaks, because their natural habitat varies so widely. Which does certainly not argue against your point with regard to the drought adapted ones, and probably some of the others.
Regards, Nick Maclaren.
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