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Building UP a bed around trees

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by clyde, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. clyde

    clyde LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 335

    I was told if u go up above the base of an oak u will kill it When building up dirt for a bed or yard.

    What about Pines ( mature 60-70ft)

    I am going to build a bed around 7000sqft in this yard and i don't need to kill anything.



    Clyde :confused:
  2. ElephantNest

    ElephantNest LawnSite Bronze Member
    from La.
    Messages: 1,878

    You can safely add one inch per year around base of trees.
  3. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,622

    How high were you thinking???
  4. clyde

    clyde LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 335

    a good 4-5"

    mainly around the pines ( which are around 60-70ft ) and there are some dogwoods ( i know they are sensitive to everything done )
  5. ElephantNest

    ElephantNest LawnSite Bronze Member
    from La.
    Messages: 1,878

    Use pine straw to gain some height, then add dirt.
  6. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    Why do you think you need to build up to create a bed?

    If you feel it is necessary to add soil for whatever reason, you can use thouroughly composted compost (does that make sense?), stuff that is fairly light and fluffy. That, you can put over tree roots to a depth of 2-3 inches or so, but I wouldn't recommend much more than that. The less the better!

    At that point, plant as small of plants as you can find. Plant perennials that are grown in quarts; shrubs use 1 and 2 gallons instead of 3's and 5's. It may take a little longer for stuff to fill out to the size you wanted it to, but the mature trees will thank you.

    In basic terms, what happens when you add soil over the root zone of a mature tree (I'm using mature in a loose fashion here), you are reducing the soil aeration around the feeder roots. Without oxygen in the soil, the roots will slowly die. This is the reason for loose, fluffy compost. It will still allow a fair amount of oxygen down to the original root zone.

    The reason the compost needs to be thouroughly composted is that if it is still decomposing, it will rob nitrogen out of the soil to finish decomposition. This is NOT good for the tree.

    Not knowing exactly what you have in mind, add 1-3 inches of compost, plant as small of plants as you can find, and mulch it. You won't be very well be able to tell the difference between 3 and 5 inches of soil in 2-3 years....

    Sorry for the rambling, but hope it helped!

  7. clyde

    clyde LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 335

    Thanks Dan

    what i have is a job I am considering thats about 1000sqft
    I wanted to suggest to the owner to build up the area slightly with some round mounds and add a little interest to a very FLAT yard.

    and put some nice shrubs. and low maintenance plants out like lirope and wax myrtles and etc...

    DAN COULD I CHEAT AND PUT maybe 1" of soil and OR WHAT ABOUT SAND (could i go higher with sand around the base of the trees and away fromt he trees top soil? and then put 2-3" of Mulch or Pinestraw to make it look like its higher?

    Thanks To everyone...that replied

    CLyde :blob4:
  8. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    I wanted to ammend the soil around my pear trees earlier this year so that I could have better luck with annuals around the base of the tree. It was impossible to till the existing clay soil without tearing out the pear's roots. So I used a mixture of 1/3 organic matter, 1/3 lava sand and 1/3 top soil and laid it around the base of the tree to approx a 3" depth. This was done over 90 days ago and so far the trees aren't showing any signs of stress. The annuals love it.

    Good luck.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  9. clyde

    clyde LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 335

    how would u tell if a tree was stressed .

    I know how to tell when i stressed but thats
    another story.:p

  10. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    You won't see any signs of stress that soon.

    If you have young pear trees you probably will be fine as long as they were planted at the right hieght to begin with. It's the bigger trees that do not like having a lot of soil over the roots.

    Stressing on those trees will start at the top of the tree. Signs at the top of the tree are a sure sign of root damage, which is what you will have with too much soil.

    Clyde- either use all sand, a very sandy mixture of compost, or just plain thouroughly composted compost. Try to keep it off of the base of the tree as best as you can.


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