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Oak Trees

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by hollydelk, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. hollydelk

    hollydelk LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I have several large oak trees in my yard and I would like to make flower beds around them. It seems that I have heard people say if you put dirt around the bottom of them that they will die? Is this true? If so, I need some suggestions on what to do to beautify the area around the trees, being grass will not grow around them.
  2. Advance The Man

    Advance The Man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 154

    I'll preface this by saying I am no expert or professional. However, I've lived in Florida all of my life with water oaks, live oaks and the like. I've had some massive one's along the way. Their root system is so vast and stretched out, I don't think there would be any impact if you were to put flowers around them. I wouldn't put azaleas or ligustrums, etc there b/c their roots may intertwine with the oak's roots. Flowers, roses, etc. have such a short root depth it would be okay.
  3. BarnOwl

    BarnOwl LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    Beware that you have to put fertile topsoil under the tree and feed/water your flowerbeds regularly. Normally trees will have very dry and poor soil conditions under them. Not to mention the lack of sun.
    So if you put any flowers under them, take the ones that are used to these conditions to save you a lot of frustration.
  4. TScapes

    TScapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 453

    As long as you don't add lots of soil, there is no real danger. Probably what someone was refering to is the fact that if you build up a bed around the base of a tree, you would be suffocating it, but that is only if you build it up and mound it against the trunk of the tree. For a bed to plant annuals or even shade loving perennials, you should not have any trouble. Just remember to not build up the soil around the trunk of the oak, just keep the soil pulled back from the trunk. I have planted numerous flower beds around trees like these in the same situation. Not knowing your likes or desires as far as plant selections, but ferns, hostas, astilbe, coral bells, etc. all work great in these environments, and have the shallow root sytems needed for the area.

    Good luck!
  5. beransfixitinc

    beransfixitinc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 592

    Little OT here.. but speaking of Oaks, what in blazes, if anything can you spray over the leaves when they fall to make them decompose that won't kill the grass under them? Live oak and the little PITA leaves.
  6. Advance The Man

    Advance The Man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 154

    Never heard of anything for that. Seems we've always raked them up. St Augustine Grass in this area has always had a difficult time growing under the oak shade.

  7. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    Beran... There is a product out that I've used before that is called Natural Guard Decomposter. It is used to help break down thatch and grass clippings into nutrients. I suppose that over a period of time it would break down other organic material as well, such as your oak leaves, but that could be a long time if the leaves haven't been mulched by a mower.
  8. marko

    marko LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 963

    I have heard that mulching oak leaves might require a lime application to re-balance soil Ph.
  9. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    I'd be careful about adding lime to the soil beneath these oak trees. Chlorosis is a problem that most of them share caused by iron deficiency in higher pH situations.

    Hollydelk, as it was somewhat pointed out, some types of oak trees do not do well with regular watering, which you might be tempted to do if you had a flower bed beneath them. It really depends upon the species, but in some cases you could create an environment for the trees to be more disease prone. Don't try to change the conditions around these trees too much, instead choose your plants carefully to match the trees natural environment.
  10. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    The summer water in dry summer areas is what will kill the Oaks native to the west.Georgia I would think add no soil or any additional water more or less than the tree's are used to and have been raised in.When you take a perfectly healthy tree and decide to :improve on its looks by messing with what it is used to like adding soil or water or parking or driving around it the tree begins to decline and
    will slowly die.Tree's are such an important asset to all and mature tree's can add 35% or more to your property value,Giving up the "I want to's" is sometimes the wizest choice

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