Ask a Question forum: Ground covering and saving our Ponderosas

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Mar 17, 2016 11:57 AM CST
Our entire property is covered with a plastic covering from a previous owner, even covering the base of all the Ponderosa trees on our property. It will be a lot of work to move all the gravel and plastic from the property and thought that I might cut around the trees.

My question: Can I cut circles around the Ponderosa so that they will absorb moisture naturally from the snow and rainfalls? I need to know if I can do this, how big should the circle be as the Ponderosas are mature trees that I would not like to lose. I appreciate our input.

Joy Soleida
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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Mar 17, 2016 12:10 PM CST
Welcome to ATP! Welcome!

You don't say where you live - that is always good to know when trying to answer questions like this. Mature Ponderosa Pines can have lateral roots 150 feet away from the trunk. They don't compete well with other shrubs or plants as they require too much of the available nutrients.

I hate to say this but I would start pulling all the plastic. Not only is the plastic blocking water from getting to the roots, it will also cause the soil to sour and compact. Ponderas can't take compacted soil either - they need a loose, coarse soil to be healthy.

Plastic is never a good idea for any plant.

Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Mar 18, 2016 11:02 AM CST
Joy Welcome!

I agree with Daisy. I would take it all up. I had a similar situation on my property only the previous owners covered the land with roofing rubber. That was very difficult to remove. When I took it up the soil was moldy and a lot of dead tree roots coming up just trying to survive.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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Mar 18, 2016 12:19 PM CST
I've had similar experiences removing black plastic and old landscape fabric. So sorry! FWIW, the plastic was somewhat easier, in spots, where it wasn't rotted as much, some pretty big chunks came up easily. The fabric was awful, with roots of stuff enmeshed in it from above and below.
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