Existing garden: Save or start over?

jesrushApril 17, 2011

We bought our first house a year ago and the previous owners had planted various perennials around a tree in the center of the backyard (picture below!). Their plant selection was not ideal, because virtually all of it blooms in spring -- and very little blooms in summer/fall.

We want to add summer/fall color (daylilies, etc.). We're torn between two choices:

1) Carve out some space and just drop the new plants into the existing mix.

2) Remove the existing plants, build a raised bed, and basically start from scratch.

Your thoughts??? Thanks!

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Save some.daylilies or other flower aren't enough.they are not evergreen.you should add other colour,shrub.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 6:00PM
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    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 6:51PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

There are several reasons why adding a raised bed around an existing tree can be bad for the tree.

First, soil touching the trunk can lead to the trunk decaying. (This is why you shouldn't even have mulch touching the trunk.)

Second, there can be insect problems. (Same problem with mulch touching the trunk.)

Third, if you add a lot of dirt above too large a percentage of the tree's roots, the tree can smother. A couple of inches usually wouldn't be a problem, though. And the smaller the percentage of the roots you're covering, the less likely the tree will suffer.

Many people add a raised bed under a tree because the grass is thin and they want to solve that problem by planting something else there, but there are too many roots to be able to dig there. Unfortunately, when you add soil above the existing roots, most trees will send up roots into the new soil.

I recently had a silver maple cut down; many, many years earlier, the Previous Owner had planted daffodils and tulips around the trunk (multiple decades, she told me). I tried to rescue the daffodils which were farthest from the trunk, but the leaves had disappeared, the dirt seemed to be solid roots, and I couldn't find the bulbs. I had the stump ground and figured the daffodils were goners.

While removing the pile of ground-up stump, I stuck the shovel into the pile temporarily, and it came up with a piece of daffodil bulb. I ended up using my hand pruning saw on 3-4" roots to free 12 1/2 tiny bulbs -- even sacrificing their roots, there was no space large enough to squeeze them out. You may have the same problem if you try to move the current plantings or add daylilies.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 9:00PM
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