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Tip of the Week: Planting Under Trees

Keep these facts about tree roots in mind when planting under or near trees.

Many people think that a tree’s root system forms a tight sphere deep underground at the end of one long root, sort of a mirror image of the trunk and branches. Here’s the truth about tree roots:

  • Most trees do not have a taproot that extends deep below the ground.
  • Their roots form a wide disk that can extend twice as far as the crown of branches.
  • 80 percent of the feeder roots are in the upper six to eight inches of soil.

And what it means for gardeners:

  • Protect the root systems of important trees.
  • Keep major soil disturbances at least 15 feet from the trunk.
  • Don’t pile soil or mulch around the tree. Adding only a few inches of soil on the tree’s root zone can cause slow, irreversible decline.
  • Plant shrubs or perennials near a tree using hand tools, which which allow you a controlled and delicate touch.

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