how do I maintain 'anything' under mature sugar maple?

Chandra(zone 5/6, WNY)June 1, 2008

Hi all,

I have a mature (28+in diameter) sugar maple smack dab in the middle of my backyard. That's not where *I* would have put it, but I wasn't around when it was planted :)

anyhoo - as you know, the tree has shallow/surface roots and sucks out all the moisture from the area.

I tried to plant a big hosta bed under the tree, but between the deer and the lack of moisture, what is left of the hostas need to move. That's fine - but is there anything i can do with the area under the tree?

I can't really grow a lawn under there because the surface roots make it impossible to mow. What's your best way to suppress weeds under your trees? would it be viable to put in a large raised bed under the canopy? Would this rot the roots?

any help will be appreciated.


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You might be better off just mulching the area and that should keep the weeds down but do not put in a raised bed. However if you still want plants look at ajuga or vinca both of which can become invasive and compete for nutrients with the maple. I am sure there are other perennials that you could try, but what piques your interest so i have included a link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Propagating Perennials

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 7:41PM
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Chandra(zone 5/6, WNY)

thanks for the response. I mulched (with shredded bark) when I put in the hostas, and that helped some - but I admit it didn't keep at it as I was very discouraged over the deer decimating the hosta plants.

How much mulch can i put down safely over the roots? is there a type of mulch that would be better than others (gravel or something else)?

thanks again,


    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 10:10PM
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I agree that you probably won't be able to grow much under your maple. I've got the same problem in my backyard. Mulching will make it look much better, however, and you probably can get groundcovers like Vinca, Pachysandra or Epidemium to grow. I've had zero luck growing hostas under large maples, sweetgums and other trees with shallow roots. Deer just compounds the problem.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 8:47AM
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