Ask a Question forum: Death Spot in garden

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Fort Worth, TX
Courtjewett
Aug 22, 2017 8:20 AM CST
This year I dug a new garden bed around an existing tree (cherry blossom); the tree was young. I planted a rose bush in the new space. After a couple of days, the tree leaves turned brown and it was clear it was dying. The rose bush followed suit and died. I just put some potato vine there and after a few days it is making a bad turn.

I am a novice, so I'm not sure what happened. My thoughts are: I accidentally snipped some roots while turning the sod over to create bed, the tree was girdled (I saw this after researching), the tree didn't like something ab the bed being made around it (I don't feel I changed the grade at all; just some mulch, not much). After extensive googling, I feel y'all will tell me to test the soil. I'm willing but the tree was fine for two years and then dies days after I dog the bed; seems unrelated to soil. It's strange bc plants in other parts of the bed are fine; seems like a 15 sq foot death zone. I haven't removed the dead tree; could that be a problem to new plants?

Since I don't know how to write on photos, I'll just tell you; the death zone seems to be starting at the dead tree and to the left (looking at pic) of it. The plants on its other side seem fine. Also, I've included a close-up of the bottom of the tree bc it looks girdled, maybe?
Thumb of 2017-08-22/Courtjewett/3021cb


Thumb of 2017-08-22/Courtjewett/cc6003

Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 22, 2017 8:29 AM CST
Welcome!

What you are seeing at the base of the tree is where it was grafted onto a different rootstock. Sometimes these graft unions fail and the top part of the tree dies. If the roots survived you may get a different tree sprouting from it. But if you dug at all deeply around the tree to make the flower bed then you probably cut off most of its roots. The roots of a tree are primarily in the top few inches of soil.

I don't know why the rose died, though, or the sweet potato vine is not doing well. Were they watered regularly after planting? Have any herbicides been used on the lawn?

Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
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Shadegardener
Aug 22, 2017 8:44 AM CST
Could the mulch have been mounded up too much around the tree trunk? It almost looks like some of the bark has rotted off of the trunk. Maybe a coincidence with the other things that are suffering?
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
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Tisha
Aug 23, 2017 2:28 PM CST
Would you explain `turned over the sod`, and how thick the sod is/was?
Name: kathy
Michigan
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katesflowers
Aug 23, 2017 5:25 PM CST
Welcome courtjewett
Before you started this project, did you spray herbicide to kill the sod? Or, were the wood chips sprayed? A product like "Ground Clear" prohibits any new growth for quite awhile and will kill anything within the drip line of application.
PS: love the patio block/green growth growing between look. If you don't want grass growing between, you could consider moss. That is a setting that looks like it has potential.
"Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." Shakespeare
Fort Worth, TX
Courtjewett
Aug 23, 2017 11:31 PM CST
katesflowers said:Welcome courtjewett
Before you started this project, did you spray herbicide to kill the sod? Or, were the wood chips sprayed? A product like "Ground Clear" prohibits any new growth for quite awhile and will kill anything within the drip line of application.
PS: love the patio block/green growth growing between look. If you don't want grass growing between, you could consider moss. That is a setting that looks like it has potential.


I didn't spray anything. That's what is bizarre. For the pavers I wanted moss but that porch is afternoon western sun. 😢
Fort Worth, TX
Courtjewett
Aug 23, 2017 11:34 PM CST
sooby said: Welcome!

What you are seeing at the base of the tree is where it was grafted onto a different rootstock. Sometimes these graft unions fail and the top part of the tree dies. If the roots survived you may get a different tree sprouting from it. But if you dug at all deeply around the tree to make the flower bed then you probably cut off most of its roots. The roots of a tree are primarily in the top few inches of soil.

I don't know why the rose died, though, or the sweet potato vine is not doing well. Were they watered regularly after planting? Have any herbicides been used on the lawn?


I water regularly and deeply. I did dig pretty deeply and felt like I saw tree roots and realized what they were after the fact. I didn't spray anything or use anything. Except I put some borax on an ant pile in the bed. I've read mixed things ab whether borax is okay around plants.
[Last edited by Courtjewett - Aug 23, 2017 11:36 PM (+)]
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Fort Worth, TX
Courtjewett
Aug 23, 2017 11:37 PM CST
Shadegardener said:Could the mulch have been mounded up too much around the tree trunk? It almost looks like some of the bark has rotted off of the trunk. Maybe a coincidence with the other things that are suffering?


I made sure not to make a mulch volcano or anything. Felt like I used a thin layer of mulch.
Fort Worth, TX
Courtjewett
Aug 23, 2017 11:40 PM CST
Tisha said:Would you explain `turned over the sod`, and how thick the sod is/was?


I mean there was grass around the tree and I wanted to make a bed so I dug up the grass all around it and turned over to make a bed. I turned over prolly 4 inch depth.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Aug 24, 2017 3:24 AM CST
Borax is toxic to plants if you use too much of it, whereas a small amount is a plant nutrient. So it rather depends on how much you used and how much is naturally occurring in your soil. Digging up the roots on the tree may well have contributed to its demise - to turn over the sod I'd have thought it may have been more than six inches in places - most of a tree's roots are in the top six inches of soil.

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