Ideas for landscaping under a tree

Updated February 21, 2017

There is often the need for planting under trees for a variety of reasons. Turf grass is hard to sustain under trees and there is the need for a different solution. Sometimes the yard is small and the area under a large tree is best used as part of the landscape. Whatever the reason, there are many ways to create a landscaping solution for under trees which is not only aesthetically pleasing in the overall picture but is also least damaging to the tree.


The shade of trees is often ideal for growing groundcovers. Groundcovers create a low maintenance, naturalistic setting in the landscape under trees. Some good choices of groundcovers under trees include vinca minor, wintercreeper, English ivy, and ajuga. There are also non-evergreen plants that can be used to cover the areas under trees. These include hosta, sweet woodruff, wild ginger, mock strawberry and lily of the valley. When using groundcover under trees, frequent watering is required for rapid establishment. Also adding organic matter to the soil under the tree helps to ease stress on the new plants and helps them get establish faster.


Small evergreen shrubs are a good landscaping idea for under trees since the plants grow low and create thick growth. The majority of shrubs require low maintenance and grow well in soil amended with organic matter. Some good shrubs include Daphne laureola which reaches a mature height of about 3 feet and spreads to 5 feet. The shrub bears yellow-green flowers in early spring. Gaultheria shallon reaches a mature height of about 4 feet and bears small pink flowers in spring. The flowers are followed with purple fruit. Lonicera pileata is a spreading shrub which grows to a mature height of 2 feet and blooms with small, creamy flowers and purple berries in spring.


Flowers can be planted in abundance under trees to create burst of colour in the landscape. The colour and daintiness of flowers contrasts well with the dark, sturdy bark of the tree. When using flowers for under trees, it is better to use perennial flowers rather than annuals. Annuals require planting every year and this can prove to be disturbing for the tree roots. In using perennials, the disturbance to the tree roots is kept to a minimum. Gradually the roots of the tree and the roots of the perennials co-mingle and attain equilibrium.

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About the Author

Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer with over 20 years of nonfiction writing experience in newspaper op-eds and magazine writing, book editing, translating and research writing. Sarfaraz is originally from Pakistan and has been published in both American and Pakistani newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, and diplomas in nonfiction writing.