Ask a Question forum: Putting raised garden beds near Japanese Maple

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Sep 22, 2016 12:37 PM CST

I have an old (I'm guessing 50 years) Japanese Maple in my backyard. The previous homeowners had a whole garden area surrounding it at one point but it has grown in massively. I'm in the process of clearing it and would like to put raised garden beds in this area for veggies. However, I do not want to harm this majestic tree. The beds would be behind the maple (to the right, if you look at the picture I have attached) and one to the side (the corner nearest the camera). They would not cover the entire garden area, perhaps only 3-5 beds.

Would this harm the tree? If so, would planting directly in the soil be ok?

Thanks so much!
Thumb of 2016-09-22/visitor/8347d1

Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Sep 22, 2016 1:30 PM CST
You bury the roots... You could suffocate or rot the roots !
And 😬😬😬

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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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Sep 23, 2016 2:21 PM CST
The thing to consider, as Philip says, it not to bury or suffocate the roots of the Japanese Maple. You need to assume it has roots outwards from the trunk at least as far as the branches reach, and possibly further. So I'd say your raised beds would be fine, but keep them at least maybe 10ft. away from the trunk of the tree.

The flip side you might find eventually is the tree putting roots up into your raised beds because of all the fert and water you'll be giving your vegetables. I have an 18in. high, 3ft. X 12ft. raised bed in the middle of my back yard, at least 30ft. from the nearest (large and lusty) oak tree but that bed is now chock full of oak tree roots. I'm going to have to pay a lusty young person to dig it all out and sift the soil for me before I can really grow much in there now.

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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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Sep 23, 2016 4:58 PM CST
Yep, what they said!
I usually take the garden hose and spray the tree in question. I watch where the water runs off to find the 'drip line'. Anything outside the drip line should be no harm to the tree roots. Here on NGA we learn from the experience of other gardeners Thumbs up , so learn from @dyzzypyxxy that you may want to put some type of barrier to exclude tree roots from invading your raised beds.
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Name: Dave
Southern wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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Sep 23, 2016 5:47 PM CST
I'm jealous. Japanese maples do not grow good where I live. So I'm told anyways. Winters are too cold, and can't protect it from the northwest winds. So I got a Korean maple and a cross between a Korean Γ— Japanese maple
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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Sep 23, 2016 6:37 PM CST
Nhra_20 said:I'm jealous. Japanese maples do not grow good where I live. So I'm told anyways. Winters are too cold, and can't protect it from the northwest winds. So I got a Korean maple and a cross between a Korean Γ— Japanese maple

This site lists several that are said to be hardy to zone 5. I've kept a 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple going here in zone 4 by surrounding it with burlap stuffed with straw each winter. It's multi-stemmed because the main stem did get killed back one winter, but still looks attractive. I don't know if it will ever get too big to wrap but it's made it through several winters.
Name: Amanda
KC metro area, Missouri (Zone 6a)
Region: Missouri Cat Lover Dog Lover
Sep 24, 2016 7:03 AM CST
I also have 2 myself. Bloodgood which is super happy and Butterfly which lost quite a few stems it's first 2 years and now the leaves just grow directly on the stems instead of branches. I need to pull that one but they can and do grow in cold areas.

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