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Does Groundcover Hurt Your Trees?
Groundcover plants are a great solution for areas not suited for lawns or other landscape plants, especially shady spots, low-water use gardens, and areas where your lawns simply fail to grow. However, it’s important to keep your trees in mind when selecting ground cover varieties and where you’ll plant them. When planted under trees, and left unmanaged, certain groundcovers can cause big problems for your valuable shade trees.
Example: In the photo above, the the Asian Jasmine around the base of the tree was not managed regularly. Thus, it eventually strangled key tree roots and caused damage around the base of the trunk.. With proper cultural care and maintenance of your groundcovers, you can prevent these issues.
When are groundcovers are bad for your trees?
Most people do not realize the threat that some groundcovers can pose, especially vining ones, such as Asian jasmine. Dense vining groundcovers growing at the base of your tree can cause girdling roots. Girdling roots can cause the tree to lose vigor over time and can impact the structural integrity of the tree. Often, when dense groundcovers wrap around the base of your tree, it can be difficult to notice other significant health problem such as girdling roots or fungal decay.
When groundcovers are growing around the base of your tree, organic material such as leaves, soil and other debris are trapped by the groundcover and build up over time. This organic debris decomposes and then builds up the soil volume around the root flare of your tree, further increasing the risk of girdled roots, fungal diseases and pest infestations.
Prevention is key.
When planting vining groundcovers around the base of your trees, you’ll need to put a more regular maintenance plan into action. Cutting away groundcovers by hand and manually removing them from the base of the tree on a regular basis will help keep them under control and prevent problems. Never use (or allow your lawn maintenance company to use) string trimmers around the base of your trees as they can also cause severe damage.
Afraid your tree is victim to an overgrown groundcover? A consultation with a Certified Arborist can help guide you and mitigate these issue before they become serious problems.