Oak tree dilemma....

by Amy
Again. Need help with this HUGE old oak tree in my front yard. Previously we were putting mulch around it and bordering it with the pictured rocks. This is just getting to be too much once a year. Need advice about what to do to make it look nice, but not have so much upkeep. I was thinking maybe a ground cover (we live in Houston, Gulf Coast, Zone 9). Any suggestions?? The problem is some areas receive no sun, some receive only AM and some only PM sun...Help me!!!! :)
oak tree dilemma
oak tree dilemma
  21 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Feb 24, 2017

    Be careful of some ground cover as they tend to grow where you do not them to. I would try planting shade perennials around the tree instead. There are many that will tolerate shade. Hostas,Hucheras,low sedge grasses. If you cannot plant in the ground create a portable container garden instead.

  • Ann Ann on Feb 24, 2017

    If it was in my yard I would definitely go with the Hosta bed. There are so many varieties that will thrive in your conditions and they are beautiful and interesting. Not alot of maintenance required. Please post photos when your project is done!

  • Amy Amy on Feb 24, 2017

    THANKS! Will check them out this weekend!!!

  • Karin Karin on Feb 25, 2017

    What about doing a pebble 'mulch' instead of wood mulch? Remove as much of the weeds as possible, lay fabric cloth or several layers of newspaper down over the entire area (as a weed block) then add your border of choice and fill will pebbles.

  • Jjarnett Jjarnett on Feb 25, 2017

    I live in zone 9 area code 32164. I have the same problem. The roots of the tree are showing above ground, and someone put river rocks all around the tree. I am having the tree pruned to allow more light and planting low growing, spreading junipers around tree base. I already have these on my property and they look healthy, grow and spread like crazy with the creeping low branches. I had a gorgeous ground cover around the tree for two years but the oak leaves killed all of it this year. I have found you must keep the leaves out of the plants. The leaf blower is useless removing the oak leaves and just caused loosening the plant stems and leaves sticking in clumps. (There is no way to rake leaves out of ground covers) I know I will be able to blow the leaves from around the junipers for I use this method on my existing junipers. I am looking for low maintaining. If I want color I can always add annuals in pots within the Junipers. This is my remedy. Weed block with stone works great. Although, deteriorated leaves on the stone rot and cause weeds to grow, that is why you must blow as much debris out from the planted area. I use a Sun Joe I bought from amazon, online.

    2 speed,10 amp, electric blower that is light weight with long small nozzle. Does a great job.

  • Jjarnett Jjarnett on Feb 25, 2017

    Hosta, are gorgeous plants, but don't grow in my zone 9.

  • Jjarnett Jjarnett on Feb 25, 2017

    Thought I'd show you my Junipers I have planted into weed fabric then add rock on top. I had this professionally done three years ago during an entire revamp.

  • 512181 512181 on Feb 26, 2017

    Pachysandra and Liriope both can handle dry shade. You may have to dig holes and amend the soil in each hole when you plant. Mulch well and keep it watered. It may take about 3 years to fill in, but it will fill in. Maybe rubber mulch would last longer. Drive around and look at ground covers that are being used in your area. Also, ask a local nursery for help with solving the problem.

  • Eroque022810 Eroque022810 on Feb 26, 2017

    It looks as though your tree branches are low enough to allow you to hang planters with the plants that need sun where your tree gets sun throughout the day. I would also have it trimmed and explain why because an arborist can help you and knows how to trim appropriately, this is not a homeowner job unless you are an arborist. Personally, I'm not a tree hugger and that one looks so large and so close to home that I would have it removed and only by an arborist because they can drill all of those roots and leave are clean for a fresh start. Many tree companies send out workers that have no clue while an arborist does the job properly. If you don't want to kill tree then just have an arborist come out and over a few years he/she can get it how you would prefer to be able to have something grow underneath. In the meantime can you get a tree ring bench? At least it's a one time purchase so over a few years pays for itself. Good luck.

  • Be cautious what you use as ground cover.

    Professionals can explain what will and won't risk the root strength and life of the tree. I agree with considering the use of a wrap around bench and elevated hanging planters. The bench is both functional and visually pleasing while the planters would draw the eye and attention up to more appealing focal points.

    Good luck!

  • Darlene Shackleford Darlene Shackleford on Feb 27, 2017

    I live in Mississippi and have found that during the dry season that most Oak trees are not friendly with perennials including hostas. The large Oaks tend to suck all the moisture available away from the plants. I have found one durable perennial that I have had success with and that is the Vinci Minor ground cover. It produces a white, pink or purple flower according to which ground cover you get. I planted these around a huge Oak tree in my back yard about ten years ago and it has thrive successfully. Before that I had tried Azalea bushes, hostas, junipers, and minature yapon bushes without success. Hope this helps.

  • Sarah Auclair Sarah Auclair on Feb 27, 2017

    Before you do anything, please visit www.dirtdoctor.com. I know he will tell you right off the bat that the root system is being suffocated because of all the dirt mounded around the base of the tree. You can send him an email with the picture you have included here.

  • JCEllis JCEllis on Feb 27, 2017

    Oak tree leaves are acidic. Find out what plants in your area like acid soils. Azaleas do, bromeliads also. It is the nature of the beast with oaks.

  • Christopher Lane Vallet Christopher Lane Vallet on Feb 27, 2017

    We have several oaks in our yard in Louisiana. They are all pre-Civil War. We keep the roots uncovered, clean, weedfree. The roots are beautiful and spread quite a ways out. We were told by several tree guys NOT to cover the roots. These guys also take care of the oaks on the grounds of the plantation home next door to us. Our trees and the ones next door are all doing great, are massive and are quit a site to see. Show off those roots!

  • Gale Thistlewood-Mckay Gale Thistlewood-Mckay on Feb 28, 2017

    Since it's acidic why not try moss

  • If you just want it to look nice.... put down weed barrier ... put large decor stone around it fill with bark mulch... and add fake flowers... and plants... I have to do it in 3 different locations at our large trees as it is constant shade and nothing will grow well...

  • Melody Drinkwater Wagner Melody Drinkwater Wagner on Feb 28, 2017

    I'm going to put a seating area around my Maple tree. Less work. I get those coppers from my huge other tree, I don't know the name of it. Thousands of coppers. This way I can just "sweep" the coppers up and not pick them up by hand. My knees can't take it anymore! (Around my Maple it's seems the ground, is hard and not growing grass. So, seating it is. A photo below of what I want (it will be black wood because of the black accents of my house) and I may DIY it. Wish me luck. Loling!

  • Sandy Sandy on Feb 28, 2017

    I have this tree and setting. I made a giant circle under it and stacked keystones 3 deep around it. Around the edge I planted monkey grass to grow up and flop over the stones. Inside I planted Tulip bulbs but Caladiums do well in low light too. Try some prickly pear since you are in Houston. Easy to blow falling leaves out as well.

    Sandy in Fla. panhandle...

  • Amy Amy on Mar 01, 2017

    Thanks Sandy....do you have pictures of the keystones?

  • Linda Fraser Linda Fraser on Mar 01, 2017

    Since you don't want any upkeep I would remove the grass around it in a circle. Lay out the stuff that you can lay down that keeps grass and weeds from growing through. Sorry I don't recall what it's called. It comes in a roll. Lowe's or any home and garden place has it. Anyway, lay that out and put whatever type of border you like around it. exp: bricks, plastic edging, etc. Then fill with the white rocks. Now you have a nice round white area around your tree with whatever border you chose to keep the rocks in. Should be no weeding because of the sheeting you put down first to stop that. You could leave as is or if you like yard art you could add a few to the white rocks. Maybe knome or a deer or frog etc. lol. Hope this helps

  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on Mar 01, 2017

    I just bought a house in Kansas with HUGE oak trees in the yard. There is hardly any grass, mostly weeds and a lovely row of day lilies. The big tall old fashioned orange ones That seem to love where they are.

    I am planning on planting vinca minor under the one in the back. I will probably end up putting it under the ones in the front too after I get tired of trying to get a lawn to grow. Some have had moderate success with fescue grass, but it takes a lot of watering and over seeding annually. UGH. Maybe I'll give that up and go with the vinca.