Ask a Question forum: What can I plant over tree roots on a sidewalk plot?

Views: 236, Replies: 5 » Jump to the end
Name: Kateri
Philadelphia, PA (Zone 7a)
Oct 22, 2017 3:25 PM CST
Thumb of 2017-10-22/Kateri/07a6a0

I have this cherry tree on my front sidewalk with some very shallow roots at the surface. How much soil can I put over the roots, and is there some type of flowering plant I can grow over the roots that will not damage the tree?

I'd like some hardy, low maintenance perennial that will bloom continuously through the summer, in Philadelphia, where it tends to be very hot in the summer.

The street gets partial sun and the soil is very shallow. I thought about some black eyed Susans that I have in another area, because they seen to be pretty Hardy and bloom continuously, but I'm not sure if it is safe to plant them in top if the tree roots.

Any help would be very much appreciated! Thank you!

Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
Hostas Ferns Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Forum moderator Region: United States of America
Region: Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Oct 22, 2017 4:01 PM CST
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!


Please see

If you put any soil on top of the root flare (base of the tree), you will encourage the tree to develop roots close to the surface that can eventually damage the sidewalk and be harmful to the tree. You might want to consider using potted plants instead. Not only will you avoid damaging the tree, but you will be able to change the display with what is in bloom, etc.

Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
Oct 22, 2017 4:45 PM CST
I think Rick gave you good advice. If you add to the soil level you will probably cause the tree to have rot at the base. If you try to make planting holes without adding soil, you will damage the already crowded roots of the tree.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Oct 26, 2017 8:46 AM CST
I third that.
Get some pots to set inside the wooden box. Even cheap nursery pots, since the wood will hide them. An ornamental sweet potato would be very happy and overflow the pot. Either gold, or maroon sweet potatos with contrasting or complimentary flower plants. As you water the pots, you'll help the tree, too. Many possibilties for pretty flowers or foliage there.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Oct 26, 2017 10:45 AM CST
Yes, large pots are your answer, whatever will fit in the box. Just don't have them leaning too close to the tree, keep them out towards the corners of the box. They will look beautiful, and the tree will benefit too.

Check from time to time though, because the tree will try to send roots up into the rich, moist soil inside your pots. So just lift the pots occasionally to discourage that from happening.

Flowers you planted amongst or on top of tree roots would have struggled, and probably failed, anyway. The tree would suck away all the water and nutrients from them.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
My dogs love me; some people don't.
Deer Bookworm Keeper of Poultry Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Georgia
Plant Identifier Rabbit Keeper Composter Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Herbs
Oct 26, 2017 11:59 AM CST
I agree I agree with everyone else - up to a point. Please do not add any soil on top of the tree roots. As beautiful as the wood frame is (and it really is gorgeous!!), even the bulk of the wood will have a negative effect on the roots of the tree. Maybe use the wood frame elsewhere in the garden.

Here is where I differ. Even putting potted plants over the tree roots will cause the roots to be oxygen-starved. Maybe (and I hate to have you make a new framework...) build another wooden frame that extends [i]outside]/i] the root space, just onto the sidewalk by a few inches (the width of the pots) and place potted plants into the new framework. Or, do something similar but have it surrounded by a short, decorative fence of some type?

Your tree will thank you. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"

« Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Ask a Question forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:



[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by Marilyn and is called "Mixed Coleus"