What grows well under an oak tree?

Orchidllauraga(7)June 10, 2014

In the middle of our front yard is about a 12 y/o oak tree. Both the tree and the house are South facing. The soil is poor to say the least. I have decided to quit with the shade loving grass seed and go with plants.with stepping stones leading to the tree. I would like for the plants to start out smaller and get larger as we get closer to the trunk.

So if you were in my yard, how would you start????

PS I am a newbie at starting something this big, but I do have my son, & husband to help me...

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socks

What are the water requirements for your oak? If it does not need extra water, putting plants which need water could cause trouble for the tree. In my area, we are told not to water the oaks in our yards.

Also, what about the tree roots? If you cultivate and dig there, might you damage the roots?

Maybe someone else here can help more, or ask at your local nursery (not HD).

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 8:33PM
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socks

oops double post

This post was edited by socks12345 on Tue, Jun 10, 14 at 20:35

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 8:34PM
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Orchidllauraga(7)

socks it really would not hurt our feelings if the tree were to rot and die. The previous owners let it get too big for the yard. To be frank, we don't have the money to get it cut down and the stump ground out...We have a crepe myrtle that is right up against the house that needs to go as well. It is just too close to the foundation..

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 10:29PM
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arcy_gw

A lot of things do..ferns, hosta, Solomon seal, impatiens, Jacob's ladder,

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:26AM
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arcy_gw

A lot of things do..ferns, hosta, Solomon seal, impatiens, Jacob's ladder,

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:28AM
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arcy_gw

Here you can see astilbe, primrose, several ferns....
I have two acres of oak trees. If it grows in the shade it will grow under oaks.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:31AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

A picture of the area you are discussing would be really helpful. A 12 year-old oak is an infant, in oak life spans. Whatever size it is now, it will continue to grow well after we are all dead and buried. I would plan on increasing shade and heavy leaf fall every year. On the other hand, trees are a fantastic investment in the future, if used appropriately. They provide shade and wind block as well as support wildlife. They also help decrease the CO2 in our atmosphere. If the tree is truly too large for the site already, you'd be far better off getting rid of it sooner than later. If you choose to keep it, decide what style of yard you want to shoot for and see if you can post a picture so we can be more specific in our suggestions.

Martha

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 8:52AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

as Arcy has indicated, anything and everything (good that is) will grow under oaks. Btw, that 12 y.o. oak is a baby.

This pic link is just part of my garden growing in a grove of 60' oaks which are anywhere from 80-113 y.o. (I know as I counted the rings on a huge red oak that I had to have cut down after losing a good part of it in a storm 6/26/08). They're thriving in oak litter and beautiful sandy loam.

This post was edited by birdsong72 on Thu, Jul 3, 14 at 7:37

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 12:46PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Here's a shot from the roof of my ranch (I was clearing gutters that day) of the pathway from the north garden to where it spills into the back yard - Spent a couple of hours there that day as warblers were all over the place and I just 'hung out with them' :-)

If you click on my pic, it will 'right itself', thus avoiding a stiff neck.

This post was edited by birdsong72 on Sun, Jul 6, 14 at 8:01

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 8:24AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Oh man, I would love an Oak tree in my garden. We lost the trees in front of our house. Now my shaded garden is in full sun. My hosta, bleeding heart, Mertensia verginica, Solomon's Seals, Heuchera, ajuga, Phlox paniculata, epimedium, Brunnera, wild ginger, and Mayapple are suffering.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 5:58PM
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ozzy2001

I have a bunch of very large oaks in our yard. I want to be sure not to hurt them if I put some plants under them. Is it best to add soil on top to put plants in or is it ok to dig it till a little?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2014 at 10:29AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

ozzy2001, it is not good to add soil on top. Why? Because plant roots not only need water and nutrients, they need oxygen. If you change the level of the soil, the oxygen supply is reduced, and those roots suffocate.

Dig around carefully, not too close to the trunks. If you find a major root, try a different spot. For best results, choose plants that are, in nature, found under large trees (ferns, hellebores, and the like).

    Bookmark   November 14, 2014 at 10:36AM
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chas045(7b)

orchid... it may depend where you live. I believe most posts are from east and midwest. If you are in Georgia, then the above info applies; but since you say you are in zone 7, i question that. If you are on the west coast, then usually nothing grows directly under oaks although I did have some agapanthus and calla lilies growing well that were closer than expected.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2014 at 10:58AM
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ozzy2001

Thanks hoov

    Bookmark   November 15, 2014 at 4:43PM
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