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Preparing garden beds

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by River Rat on April 13, 2005 03:19 PM
Have 2 large Balsam Fir trees about 6' apart, need best advice for preparing garden beds (firsttime) under trees, some roots exposed, sandy/silty river soil.
by Dixie Angel on April 13, 2005 03:26 PM
[wayey] Welcome to the forum, River Rat!

I would try the lasagna gardening method to prepare the site. I have been reading about it and it seems like it would make even the poorest soil better.


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by loz on April 13, 2005 10:35 PM
Hi there river rat....welcome to the forum, it's nice to have you here.

I'm going to go ahead and move your topic to landscape trials and triumphs so you can get some good suggestions on how to deal with preparing your bed properly......

by tkhooper on April 14, 2005 02:30 AM
ummmmm, i'm a beginner but could you give me alittle more information.

When you say you are preparing beds do you mean you plan on planting something underneath the pine trees? And if so what? And if so do you know what the plants, you are planning on, require as far as pH, sun, water, fertilizer?

Or are you just planning on making the pines healthier and more attractive?

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by River Rat on April 14, 2005 02:44 AM
RE:Preparing garden beds; planning on installing flowering plants under and around the Balsam Fir trees. Looking for advice as per the exposed root areas of firs (can they be covered without damaging the trees?) High PH acidic soil exists as result of close proximity to CT River, very sandy/clay, little or no topsoil. Area to be landscaped is slightly sloped in center (between the two firs). Thinking of leveling with mixtures of compost/topsoil/existing clay-sand. Thinking my best option at this late date is to install annuals and consider perennials for next years growth. Help.
by tkhooper on April 14, 2005 03:42 AM
Well from what I can see it's a characteristic of this fir to have shallow roots usually no more than 30" deep. I know you can't mulch up to the trunk on evergreens in general.

Here is part of an article on balsam firs.

Rooting Habit- Balsam fir root systems are mostly confined to the duff layer and to the upper few centimeters of mineral soil (11). Windfall potential is high. Damage from wind is especially likely when the shallow root systems are loosened by heavy rainfall and gusty winds and where timber removals from stands not previously thinned have been poorly conducted. These usually older, dense stands are susceptible probably because root development has been poor.

Root penetration on deep or shallow soils extends to 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) and has been reported to a depth of 137 cm (54 in) in sandy soils in northern Ontario. Lateral roots of balsam fir are usually strongly developed and extend horizontally in all directions to 1.5 m (5 ft) or more (1).

Root breakage and other root damage caused by swaying trees may not be as severe as is commonly thought. Most investigators agree, however, that some root breakage probably occurs because of frostheaving and swaying. During epidemics of spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana), rootlet mortality can reach 75 percent after 3 consecutive years of defoliation (1).

Balsam fir root grafts are probably common and have been reported frequently. Abrasion of the bark of roots of swaying trees on lowland soils and interroot compatibility and growth pressure on upland soils apparently account for the majority of root grafts. Infection may spread through grafted roots to damage other balsam fir trees (1).

So I would say that a light mulch would probably be ok since there natural habitate is as an understory in a forest, but again keep the mulch away from the trunk.

I did the best I could but I'm a beginner.

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by gardenmom32210 on April 14, 2005 03:56 PM
Heres a link to creating a raised lasagna bed...

Lasgna gardening

The 5th and 7th replies explains it.

Hope it helps [thumb]

G-Mom [grin]

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