The Q&A Archives: Planting Beneath White Pines

Question: We recently built a home in zone 4. It is next to a lake and surrounded by white pine. The growing season appears to be very short and nothing that we plant does well. What ground cover, shrubs, flowers, and trees would you recommend? Jan Rogers Nelson, NY

Answer: I agree, yours is a challenging gardening situation! It's hard to establish plantings under a canopy of white pines: the soil is acidic, and the trees are very moisture-competitive, so you would need to supply moisture almost constantly to plantings. If you are interested in installing irrigation or otherwise maintaining moisture, ferns and native woodland plants can be encouraged to grow. Roslyn Gardens (211 Burrs Lane, Dix Hills, NY 11746; ph#516-643-9347) has a wide selection of ferns, groundcovers, shrubs, etc. that, if watered, will grow in your very shady garden. You can try container plantings or raised beds of the same shade-tolerant plants.

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