Planting trees: Small companions for the giants in your garden

Many trees have a beautiful crown, but underneath it often looks bare and boring. This can easily be changed by planting under the trees. But be careful! Not every plant is suitable for every tree.

Planting a tree - tips and suitable plants Wherever the eye goes – trees, flowers and shrubs everywhere. I guess that’s every gardener’s dream. No matter on which level the eyes are, there is always something to see and discover. Under trees, however, it is not so easy to create a spot-covering sea of flowers, as the different requirements and especially the root growth of the trees make it quite difficult for other plants.

So that it goes in the vegetable garden harmoniously, the inhabitants must fit well to each other. Light conditions, space for root growth as well as competition for nutrients and water are the most frequent points of contention, which you should not even let arise.

Which plants are suitable for which trees?

Underplant deep and heartworm roots

Deep roots are particularly suitable for underplanting. They leave plenty of room for the growth of other species in the near-surface soil on the tree disc. The settlement of companions under ashes, oaks and firs, which all form vertical main or tap roots, is particularly easy.

Deep roots without tap roots such as chestnuts and heartworts such as lime trees or larches have more extensive roots. In some distance to the tree trunk a slightly free soil should nevertheless be found for the planting. Hostas, hedge cherries, forsythia or berry bushes such as blackberries are ideal companions.

Plant under shallow rootlets

Flat root plants such as willows, magnolias or birches cause the hobby gardener considerably more problems with subplanting. Its plate-shaped root network extends over the entire tree disc and is usually dense and compact. Some vacancies can also be found under these trees with a little patience. Check the soil at a distance of about 40 centimetres by tapping it slightly with a spade. If you do not feel any significant resistance, you have probably found a suitable location for a companion.

In addition, even on already rooted soil a new settlement of plants is not completely excluded. Ferns, green ground coverers like ivy, but also small flowers like crocuses, snowdrops or lilies of the valley find enough soil even under pronounced shallow roots. Some forest-dwelling shrubs, including the flowering rhododendrons, are also strong enough to compete successfully with shallow-rooted trees.

In principle, it is recommended to mulch the soil on the tree disc regularly. Ordinary garden soil is otherwise very quickly leached out due to the double strain.

Note rain and parasol effect

Keep in mind that trees with dense foliage almost act like an umbrella in summer. Even if the tree roots do not dispute the water directly with their companions, you have to water the plants more often than plants that grow in the open air.

The tree shadow is a serious problem for bushes with a high need for light, such as lilac. For this reason, do not plant your trees with any species that only thrive in full sunny locations. In the edge area of the tree disc, which is exposed to the sun for at least a few hours a day, you can, for example, plant hydrangeas that can cope well with semi-shade.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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