Dogwood roots

kbard(6b PA)March 15, 2013

I have a driveway about 250-300 feet long. One side is a hill of medium steepness, with about 3 dogwoods among other things. Those trees are in a bed on that hill, the bed is about 8 feet wide and extends the length of the entire driveway. The previous owner (from what I see on google maps satellite view) previously had red mulch under the trees. Now that is gone and the roots are so exposed, not only does it look bad it looks quite unhealthy. I'd rather plant some good groundcover under there like maybe pachysandra. Because any mulch is going to slide off in the rain as it apparently already did easily because there is no trace of it. My questions are: how deep can I put soil/compost etc on those roots in order to plant some groundcover plants? Wouldn't want to smother them and wouldn't want to dig down into the root system (clay soil) and damage roots. Thanks!

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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Neat trick using that google isnt it :)

Is it possible just to remulch the roots and if the mulch turns back to soil so be it?

I am soo worried by adding soil level to trees that have acclimated themselves to something over a decade. Did the mulch wash away all at once or is it just too much of a hill?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:39PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

need a picture to understand the situation.. your words.. fail me ...

the most basic question will be.. how will you apply water.. to new transplants.. on a hill ... with that distance to cover ... nothing is going to survive under mature trees.. w/o copious watering ....

one might suggest your only option is to plant.. and then mulch again..


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:53PM
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A word of warning about planting on a slope. We lost a newly planted tree last year because of water issues.

We moved into the 3year old house in August last year and planted several bushes and trees in the fall. This tree was planted on a slope that was part of the area cut away for the road.

Thinking slope means it will need regular watering because it would dry quickly, we water religiously. What we did not understand that there were several small seams in the ground that drained the hill above us and as a results of the road cut now came to the surface on the slope.

The net results were the tree ended up being over watered and died. The natural water oozing from the ground draining the hill above watering the tree and our watering.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 7:14PM
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kbard(6b PA)

Toronado, yes I certainly could re mulch and I may end up doing that if I can't find a better solution. I guess I'm just looking for a more permanent solution. I'm not sure how fast it washed away, we just got the house last year and I didn't put anything under it. I don't think it's too much of a hill that it would wash away in just one storm.

Ken I wouldn't be planting under the whole length of the driveway. Just under the dogwoods and between them where it's sort of shady. About 75 of those feet of length of the driveway are junipers which are in almost decent shape, the rest of it is in full sun that I need to figure out what to do with. I'll take a pic tomorrow if I can get out there before the snow. I'd be hand watering with a watering can. I wouldn't mind mulching after planting, since it would have something to hold it there

Knuttle I haven't thought about the fact that these trees might already get enough water... They very well may have enough. But the roots being so exposd just doesn't seem right at all. I'll take a pic. The trees are probably 25 years old that's when the lot was cut out of the farmland and the house was built and they bloomed nicely last year so seem to be in ok shape.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 8:13PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

The usual method of planting groundcovers is to take a sharp trowel, stick it in the ground, pry up a seam, and shove the small groundcover roots in the seam. Step on it, and leave. Mulching the spaces between the groundcover plants isn't a bad idea, because otherwise the weeds will take over. But there isn't a lot of root disturbance to established plants, and there isn't a lot of topsoil needed. We've done a lot of vinca that way, and I wouldn't expect pachysandra to be much different.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 8:19PM
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kbard(6b PA)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 10:14AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i would put a 3 foot mulch ring around it.. and be done with it ...

the type of mulch will make the difference as to whether it rolls away ... and try some aggressive ground covers.. but i fear failure with that many roots competing for moisture ...

might even consider just some fine pebbles.. and round up.. to keep it weed free ...


    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:05AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

From what I understand you can kill a tree by putting soil and groundcovers over exposed roots. There is a gas exchange issue.

Get an expert opinion about the mulch. That might be your only solution.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:17PM
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