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#31990 June 10th, 2005 at 04:21 AM
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Hi all:

My small backyard has a huge maple tree and some lilac bushes.

I have tried planting flowers in the yard, but there is a very tight network of really tough roots covering almost all of the yard. You can't even find a finger space mostly, and they're right at the surface.

What I'm hoping someone can tell me is:

1) Are the roots likely to be maple, lilac, or both?

2) What is the best way to turn up the soil and roots? Is there some machine that will till through all those roots?

3) Can I till as close as the drip-line to the trees, or do I have to stay further away?

Right now, I've just thrown down multiple packets of wildflower seeds, and planted mint, which is spreading pretty well. Have some berry canes and rose bushes and hineysuckle along the far fence, where there is a small strip of 'diggable' earth.

Any suggestions most welcome.
TIA,
~cybercrone

#31991 June 10th, 2005 at 04:41 AM
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Cybercrone...I may be able to help you...or at least make you cry! (just kidding) I think I am the root queen! We bought this house and there were 3 trees in the back yard...BUT the root system was exactly as yours and even some that were above ground. So, we called the tree man and here is what I know.
There is a "hard plate" below the ground that keeps the roots from going down...they grow upwards to find water..there is pretty much nothing you can do for the hard plate short of dozing the yard up completely and putting some gravel or some kind of drainage system in which is pretty darn expensive even for a small yard.
We had 2 of the trees taken out (we desperately needed the room) and then they came in with a grinder and ground up almost the entire yard trying to grind the roots. The tree we left in is a maple, and we are seriously considering taking it out and having the rest of the yard ground up. The roots from the trees are tearing our privacy fence up badly. Even with them grinding the yard...we STILL find mega roots when tilling or trying to put in a new garden bed. I cannot tell you how close to the tree you can do this without killing it. We even have problems with the neighbors elephant ears roots growing under the fence and all the way to the middle of our yard! It is just an ongoing problem that we have to deal with constantly. I cannot tell you for certain that you have the hard plate thing going on...but it sure sounds like it to me. If you have a tree service in your area, they will probably caome and give you an estimate or tell you what is going on without a charge...It would be worth checking out. You can rent the grinders from an equiptment rental place...but here it was almost as much to rent the machine as it was to just have some one come and do it. Maybe this will help give you some ideas as to where to start.

#31992 June 10th, 2005 at 04:47 PM
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Just a quick idea here, what about building a raised bed over the roots?

Mary wink

#31993 June 10th, 2005 at 05:00 PM
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Yep it sounds like raised beds are a really good idea. Just remember not to do them all the way up to the tree trunk cause that can damage the tree. Hope you know someone with chickens, cows and horses cause doing most of the yard that way is going to take a lot of manure. But it's going to be one really pretty yard when you get done.

#31994 June 10th, 2005 at 07:57 PM
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[Linked Image]
That is what I did...made all raised beds. This pic was taken earlier in the spring...my computer is in a fog right now and I can't post new pics...but should have it fixed this week-end and will get you some better views. These beds are only 1 landscape timber high...the new beds I have done are 2 high and I like them much better. It really didn't take that much to do it. We just got some top soil and added a couple of bags of manure and tilled it together. this spring I used fresh manure from my cousin's cattle and tilled it in. I also have been putting in the "throw away" fish parts after we clean fresh fish...it has really made a big difference. Our tomatoes are already close to 7ft tall and loaded!

#31995 June 10th, 2005 at 07:59 PM
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[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

#31996 June 10th, 2005 at 08:03 PM
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oops! Hit reply to soon! The above pics are the squash bed and the strawberry bed...it is 2 landscape timbers high. I keep adding more beds every year (and am running out of room)I don't like the squash bed with the cement edging as well as the landscape timbers...just a person choice...so you have several different options. Hope this has helped some!

#31997 June 10th, 2005 at 09:16 PM
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Pressure treated wood makes me nervous.

Linky

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#31998 June 10th, 2005 at 09:59 PM
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trees can take a ton of abuse.

Roots will be beyond the weep edge but if you go with raised beds (6" to 8") you will be fine as long as you don't take too much territory away from the tree or wrap a large deep bed around the tree.

Pick your spots and do it over a couple years. You'll have your garden and the conditions (sun/shade) you want and the tree will be fine.

#31999 June 16th, 2005 at 08:39 AM
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Thanks all. This has given me some good ideas and some things to look into.

In this city it is against bylaw to cut down any tree - even if it's on your own property. So I can't take that route.

Raised beds could be a boon too, since at my age, it would be great not to have to bend quite so far to weed <G>

#32000 June 16th, 2005 at 11:46 AM
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Raised beds could be a boon too, since at my age, it would be great not to have to bend quite so far to weed <G>
Although I personally love to weed gardens (I don't know, it's just relaxing to me! Duh )with a 2 yr old...I just don't have the time (or energy) so, plenty of mulch takes care of that! I rarely have to weed at all now. thumbup


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