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tree planter box question

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by zlssefi, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. zlssefi

    zlssefi LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    I have a customer that wants a box for planting flowers installed around the tree in his front yard. the tree is probably an 8 or 10 inch maple. My question is, how do you level the blocks, or timbers when the roots of the tree are showing in the dirt already? trying to figure out how to do this without raising the box too high with fill....thanks for the responses in advance!
  2. lukemelo216

    lukemelo216 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ...
    Posts: 1,267

    I would just put the box out far enough where it wont be hitting roots. Instead of having it 3 feet away from the tree can you have it 4 feet instead.
  3. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,441

    I'm an ISA arborist and a journeyman horticulturist.
    If you put any kind of fill on top of where the top of the roots now are, you will stress the tree. This is relevant to any-where within the drip line.
    The client is potentially going to have disease and insect problems in the future.

    Large roots may rise and fall depending on the current ground water conditions

    Also, I am concerned with the butt of the tree possibly rotting from the fill soil going so high up the trunk and you will get adventitious roots in the new soil as well.
    They can eventually grow to such proportions with this species of tree, that a thick mat
    will form and be difficult to dig and plant in in the future. Doing so will also cause stress on the tree.

    Could they not just purchase some nice pots and place them there?
    Odd numbered groupings always look the best in landscape design.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  4. lukemelo216

    lukemelo216 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ...
    Posts: 1,267

    I have to agree now that I've thought about it more. Your best bet would be to create a flowerbed around that tree, and then just appply a nice 2-3" of hardwood mulch around the tree. Then they can plant whatever are the bed or just put some nice planters in there.

    If you were to be doing this around a new tree you are getting ready to plant no problem. You build the planter box then plant the tree, but if your building a box around an existing tree then throwing 6"-12" of soil and mulch in it your going to be severely hurt that tree and it will lead to large problems down the road.
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  5. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,734

    Advise you customers not to do this, as dr.newearth has given you enough reasons. I've seen a bunch of these terrible planter boxes and "block" walls around trees and frankly, they suck. Bad for the tree and not good looking at all.

    At least, you could make a nice, natural bed edge (ring) around the tree, strip the grass/weeds on the surface, add some LIGHT garden mix soil, mulch, and mass plant annuals or groundcover- something that won't require digging a hole more than a 2-3 inches deep. Don't disturb the larger roots.
  6. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,441

    I'll add that Acer, aka Maple's are one of the tree species that prevents competition in its root zone through "allelopathy"

    This is where the tree sends out a toxin or a signal if you prefer into the soil and it can kill the other plants.

    Now, I have planted annuals within an Acers roots, but there were always issues.

    I have had shrubs within the root zone die eventually, as the tree matured and its roots spread to where it touched the shrubs roots.

    Black Oaks are famous for doing this through '"allelopathy"
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    A planter with 5 sides and a surrounding bench, is built on stilts/legs and lookd fairly nice, if done right... Laying blocks to put up a box is probably in the Pictionary for tacky... :)
  8. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,441

    adventitious roots is another way of saying epicormic root growth
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    "The root system of a tree is dynamic (Watson 1990) and changes its depth of maximal activity according to season, moisture, and oxygen availability (physical properties).
    Nevertheless, the location and depth of major roots cannot change overnight and rapid
    alterations are often fatal."
  10. zlssefi

    zlssefi LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    Im convinced its not a good idea to put in this planter, the planter would have to be about 5 feet past the drip edge of the tree to avoid any roots, and that would make it the size of the front yard...lol i think ill convince the customer to put a couple inches of topsoil and growing mix in, just deep enough to plant a few flowers.

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