Planters can add a lot to the aesthetic appeal of your yard by creating variety in the height and format of flowers, hanging ivy, decorative grasses and other plants. Installing planters around a tree can combine the beauty of the tree and your other plants. Be sure to give the tree plenty of room to grow when you put the planters around it.
Build two concentric round stone walls around a tree and create a space between the two walls that can be filled with soil and used as a planter. It is particularly important to leave a space between the tree and the inner wall with this idea, since you are not likely to want to move the stone wall when the tree gets larger. Mulch heavily in the area between the tree and the inner wall; this will prevent the area from filling in with weeds and grass. Dig a trench and extend the bottom of the stone wall below the frost line to prevent it from heaving and cracking when the ground freezes.
Planters made of wood can assume any number of shapes and sizes. Simple planters can be constructed out of planks or reclaimed lumber and set on the ground around a tree. Larger and more permanent planters can be designed to sit around the tree permanently. When building planters out of wood, be sure to use species that are resistant to damp and rot such as cedar, hickory or white oak. Paint the parts that will come in contact with soil to further prolong the life of the wood. Making smaller planting boxes will be more work in relation to the planting area, but this will also increase your flexibility when it comes to arranging the planters around the tree.
You can buy commercially made concrete planters, or you can get ambitious, construct some sturdy wooden forms and make some concrete planters yourself. Concrete planters are extremely heavy; once you put them where you want them, you won't want to move them again. On the positive side, they are virtually indestructible and will last far longer than wood planters. You can create large concrete planters by building the forms in place and pouring the concrete for permanently installed planters. As with stone walls, be sure that you don't do this too close to the base of the tree, as that will interfere with the tree's growth in the future.
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