Oak – Planting Beneath

Q: I have a huge oak that has a lot of moss growing under it. We can’t get anything to grow under this tree.

A: A healthy oak has lots of leaves which catch almost all of the sunshine streaming in its direction. Light-loving plants, like lawn grass and most flowering plants, require lots of light in order to thrive. The oak casts so much shade that these plants slowly wither away. You could cover the soil under the oak with an organic mulch, like pine straw, leaves or pine chips. Or you could install plants that don’t need much sunshine in order to look good. Autumn fern, variegated Solomon’s seal, mondo grass, liriope, hosta and Lenten rose are among my favorites for shady spots under trees. Use a small shovel to remove soil between your oak’s roots. Put the soil in a wheelbarrow and mix it with an equal amount of soil conditioner or planting soil. Fill your excavations with this enriched mix and use some of the plants mentioned above to create a pleasant shade garden.

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