Coming up with landscaping ideas around tree roots can be a challenge. Not only do you have the tree roots to deal with, but you also have to figure out shade plants that will survive around the base of a tree.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Shade-Loving Plants for Landscaping Under Trees
- How To Lay Landscape Fabric
- Landscaping Around Trees Ideas
- Decorative Landscaping Rock Ideas
- Landscaping Around Trees for Erosion Control
- One More Idea For Exposed Roots
- Curb Appeal
We had landscaped around the oak tree in our front yard many years ago when we moved it. Back then our landscape design consisted of a rock border around the tree and daylilies planted underneath it. We had also filled it in with loose mulch to finish it off.
It looked beautiful until a few years ago when the root system grew so big it knocked all the rocks out of place. And because the tree grew so much the lilies didn’t get enough sun to bloom anymore. It went from partial shade to full shade.
Here is what it looked like earlier this year.
A giant eyesore right in our front yard. It took me all summer but I finally got around to redoing the landscaping around this oak tree.
First, I removed the rocks and gave those to my niece. Then I edged around the trees (the easy way), using only a shovel.
Shade-Loving Plants for Landscaping Under Trees
If you’re looking for landscaping ideas around tree roots you will likely need some shade plants.
For that reason, I removed the daylilies and went to the store for shade plants. I wanted a pop of color here so I knew I was going to use heuchera (aka coral bells). I have several of those in the front porch garden as well.
Hostas are another shade-tolerant plant that does great under trees. Those weren’t my first pick but the garden centers were cleaned out of most things considering it’s August already.
So I did end up buying hostas, the price was right (3 for $10) and I like the brighter green of the leaves on this variety. One other consideration I had was ferns but those are harder to find and more expensive so I went the easy way.
Then I filled in the area with several bags of dirt before planting them around the tree trunk. This will help them grow in new soil and not compete against the tree’s roots.
Above, you can see how I laid them out. I alternated the plants for color contrast. There is also an empty planter there which was going to be my feature of this garden area.
How To Lay Landscape Fabric
After I had them planted, I went around and put down landscape fabric (garden netting) to help prevent weeds from growing around the base of the tree.
I’m no expert at laying garden netting. How I did it was to first cut off a section from the roll. Then I laid it around the plants and cut out circles for each of the plants. Lastly, I trimmed the edges so they were rounded like the tree edging. I also used the metal garden pins to pin it down and hold it in place.
I would’ve preferred to lay it down before adding the dirt and plants because that would be much easier. However, my landscaping friend told me that was not the ideal way to do so I listened to the professional on this.
Once the garden netting was secured, I added a few more inches of soil. I didn’t want to build it up with a lot of soil, just enough to add my small plants.
Now it was time for the feature…garden rocks.
Landscaping Around Trees Ideas
My idea for this area was to have rocks spilling out of a tipped planter as well as some around the edge of the tree. I wasn’t sure how much I needed and was talked into getting a HALF TON at the landscape place.
It seemed like far more than I needed but was actually far less expensive than buying 7 or 8 bags of rocks so I agreed. I soon found out what I saved in cash I spent on time and labor moving all these rocks.
It was FAR more than I needed so I ended up driving around delivering rocks to family and friends that wanted some.
After two days of hauling rocks, I was beginning to feel as if I were on the chain gang.
In spite of all that, rocks are great for landscaping around trees. First, I added some to the planter and then placed a bunch as though they were spilling out from it.
Then I placed the larger rocks all around the base of the tree. I also added stacks of them in between where the plants are.
The reason for those little stacks is so that when the plants grow bigger, they will look nestled into the rocks. You’ll have to use your imagination for now. I share that after pic in 2-3 years, lol.
Decorative Landscaping Rock Ideas
Once I had the border finished, I had one spot that looked a bit bare. So I went back to my plethora of landscaping rocks and found some smaller pieces to make a decorative dragonfly using the river rock.
Isn’t that cute?
It filled in that little spot just perfectly. I also plan to add a layer of organic mulch over the dirt but haven’t gotten to that yet.
Landscaping Around Trees for Erosion Control
If you’re wondering if there are any landscaping ideas around tree roots that might help with erosion control, the answer is yes.
The rocks I added function as sort of a mini retaining wall. The buildup of dirt acts as a slope for runoff and the plants will help absorb excess moisture, as will mulch.
While I don’t really have an issue with soil erosion, I wanted to include this for anyone who does. It’s a great way to take care of that issue in a beautiful way.
One More Idea For Exposed Roots
I had to include this idea for landscaping around trees with large exposed roots. It’s so simple but it looks so cool. After edging the area, just fill in with many small rocks and leave the roots exposed.
The white rocks they used above really help to contrast against the dark roots. The contrast adds to the visual appeal.
That perfect carpet of green grass doesn’t hurt either.
Additionally, here is a picture of my backyard. You can see I planted hostas around this oak tree (in the background) as well. Hostas thrive around tree trunks!
As I mentioned, this tree is smack in the middle of my front yard. Having it cleaned up and landscaped really helps with the overall curb appeal of my house.
What was an eyesore is now a focal point.
While I much rather be planting flowers, landscaping around trees can be just as beautiful. It just takes a little creativity and effort.
And lots of rocks. 😉
I hope you enjoyed these landscaping ideas around tree roots! We’d love to hear your landscape solutions in the comments!
Update: After publishing this post I received some backlash in the comments regarding concern for the tree’s health.
While I am not a landscape expert, I have done this same thing to two other trees on my property when they were newly planted small trees 20 years ago. Both of which grew into mature trees without issue.
However, I would say for best results, if you’re concerned about the health of the tree, you should consult a landscaping company or other experts to be sure.