The Q&A Archives: Block around a tree

Question: I have 2 courses of landscape block around a 20yr old pine. It's filled with dirt for flowers. Am I suffocating the tree?

Answer: The answer depends upon how long the planter has been in place. If it's been there since the tree was planted, the roots of the tree will have adjusted over the years. If you just recently installed the planter, you may be compromising the health of your tree. Feeder roots should be out at least as far as the dripline of your tree so additional soil on top of the roots closer to the tree may not affect the tree at all. The major concern is piling up soil around the trunk of the tree. Soil can hold too much moisture against the bark which can cause the bark to rot. Sometimes you can adjust the planter to include a second row of landscape blocks placed close to but not touching the trunk to allow air circulation and to keep the soil off the bark of the tree. I'm not sure what to suggest in your particular situation but considering the above cautions should help you keep your tree healthy and still have a planter to enjoy. Best wishes with your landscape!

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