The Q&A Archives: Pavers over a tree

Question: I have a large tree in my front yard and I am unable to get grass to grow under it. I am thinking the most attractive to do is to lay pavers. What wouls be the best way to do this?
Should I put sand down to level it out?

Answer: Although your plan sounds like it will solve the problem, you may compromise the health of your tree by placing pavers over the roots. Adding soil, sand or installing pavers on top of the roots can actually suffocate the roots. If you can find pavers with lots of holes in them to allow rain to percolate down to the roots and air to circulate, they might be okay. But I think I would vote for growing a shade tolerant groundcover beneath the tree. Some plants to consider include Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick), Euonymus fortunei ?Coloratus? (Wintercreeper), Mahonia repens (Creeping Oregon grape) or Vinca minor (Periwinkle) are all good chices for your gardening region.

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