Ask a Question forum→Will putting concrete patio blocks between each tree help or hinder growth?

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Wisconsin
Mjg49
Jun 14, 2020 5:27 PM CST
These trees are arborvitae. I think this will stunt root growth and husband says they will retain water better if no weeds grow between them
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
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Arico
Jun 14, 2020 5:49 PM CST

From your title and question can I assume that, since they're arborvitae and you specifically say BETWEEN them, that it's a hedge?

If so, then - depending how big these blocks are - there is more than enough space around each tree for the roots to grow unhindered by a hard surface and water will creep underneath them too to allow for moisture absorption, and yes retention (lift a rock or slab and it's always moister underneath, hence why slugs love hiding there...) so in that regard he's right

Besides, when laid on top, these blocks don't really interfere with root growth since they grow underneath. I don't know in the case of arborvitae, but there are plenty of species of trees that are planted in a square a metre space surrounded by hard surfaces such as in cities. Trees adapted to these conditions do just fine nonetheless or even lift the entire pavement and road.

But why concrete blocks? They're ugly, heavy and better suited for other purposes. A coarse organic mulch laid thick enough will just as easily prevent weeds while allowing the better aeration, water infiltration/retention and soil building. It's much more pleasing to the eye too, albeit not forever lasting.

Wisconsin
Mjg49
Jun 15, 2020 10:49 AM CST
These trees are about 2-3 ' apart and the reason patio blocks are out between is to keep grass from absorbing water that could go to trees. Is it better to just leave grass and use lawn mower to keep beat or use patio concrete blocks
Missouri (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
Jun 15, 2020 11:00 AM CST
It won't matter either way. The patio blocks wills shade the soil and prevent other plants from getting the water. Your little shrubs are going to put out an extensive root system in no time and the grass will not matter, it too will shade the soil to prevent it drying out. Bare soil is bad, and mulch is a nice way to keep the area moist underneath also. The thing with mulch is, it sometimes creates a crust or layer that water cannot get through as well, but then it won't dry out easily either.
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: Europe
Image
Arico
Jun 15, 2020 1:52 PM CST
Frillylily said:It won't matter either way. The patio blocks wills shade the soil and prevent other plants from getting the water. Your little shrubs are going to put out an extensive root system in no time and the grass will not matter, it too will shade the soil to prevent it drying out. Bare soil is bad, and mulch is a nice way to keep the area moist underneath also. The thing with mulch is, it sometimes creates a crust or layer that water cannot get through as well, but then it won't dry out easily either.


Grasses (lawn) are major competitors for water and nutrients, especially to young trees and shrubs. That's why it's adviced to keep a good distance from the trunk free of it in the first few years of establishment.

Also, mulches creating a hydrophobic crust is very dependant on the type of mulch: the finer, the bigger the chance that this occurs (like sawdust for example).
Coarser mulches like wood chips have big pores between them to allow water infiltration.
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Frillylily
Jun 16, 2020 12:14 AM CST
yes I suppose on the grass, may depend on how big the shrubs are when you plant them. I never worry about it, cause I water mine regular. If I were trying to conserve water/time I'd probably not have grass around new planted bushes. I planted a row of 10 privets in fairly thick grass and didn't have an issue, but they are pretty vigorous growers.

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