The Q&A Archives: Growing Flowers in Rooty Soil Under Trees

Question: The front of my house has professionally landscaped shrubs, flowering tree and pine tree on the corner. It faces the east. The soil is very hard and filled with roots. What is an inexpensive way to cultivate the soil? Will it damage the shrubs and tree roots? I want to add color this spring, what type of perrenials/annuals do you recommend for this soil?

Answer: Cultivation will harm the roots of your trees and shrubs, so it's best to build up -- with raised beds. You can build wooden, stone, or brick walls for the beds, then fill them with good soil. Or simply mound soil here and there to create island gardens. Your plant choice depends on the sun/shade your eastern yard gets, but you'll certainly have more choices with raised beds than with the soil as it currently stands.

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