How to Beat Roots in a Shade Garden

There are three basic ways to beat root competition in a shady garden. However, remember to keep the health and well-being of the trees as a priority; don't disturb too much too fast.

beating roots in a shade garden
Beat roots in the shade garden by inserting a solid barrier.

One way is to dig down into the soil and insert a solid barrier, such as a plastic barrel with the bottom taken off, to keep the roots out. Fill the space inside the barrier with good soil.

beating roots in a shade garden
Put plants in containers to beat roots in a shade garden.

Another method is to plant in containers. Pots, trays, and flower boxes set on top of the soil will stymie even the most invasive roots. This is often an ideal way to introduce annuals into the shade garden.

beating roots in a shade garden
Installing raised beds helps beat roots.

The final method is to install raised beds, filling each bed with at least 12 inches of top-quality soil. Do not do this over the entire surface of the garden all at once: The sudden change in soil depth can smother the roots of nearby trees. Instead, add raised beds gradually, in sections, over a number of years. Once the new soil has been added, make sure you water regularly as needed. If not, the water-starved trees will soon send new roots upward in search of water, clogging up the new bed.

Keep reading to learn about color, texture, and naturalizing shade plants.

Want more information about shade gardens? Visit these links:

  • Garden Types: Explore a variety of wonderful garden types.
  • Gardening: We answer all of your general gardening questions in this section.
  • Shade Garden Plants: Learn about the plants that thrive in shade gardens.