Keep Groundcovers in Check
December 4, 2018
Groundcover plants certainly have their place in the landscape. Asian jasmine and liriope are popular choices for many landscapes in North Texas for their ease of care and quick growth habit. They are great for super shady spots, anywhere you want to keep soil from eroding, and especially places where turf doesn’t want to grow. However, when planted at the base of your trees and left unchecked, they can cause costly problems.
In what seems like the blink of an eye, quick growing groundcovers can wrap around the base of your tree, covering the root flare and causing girdling roots. You already know that root flare exposure is important because it allows the exchange of oxygen which is so vital to your trees. If roots are not properly exposed, it may cause rot at the base of the tree, allowing disease and insects to enter and injure the tree. Additionally, groundcovers growing at the base of your tree encourages accumulation of leaves and debris, which over time decomposes and forms soil – further exacerbating the issue. Bottom line: unmaintained groundcovers and girdling roots lead to overall decline and death of your trees.
How Can I Fix This?
If you already have vigorous groundcovers at the base of your tree, make sure you stay on top of regular maintenance. This means regularly inspecting and manually cutting away any plant parts encroaching on the tree trunk. You should remove groundcover from at least 12” out from the tree trunk to allow for proper root flare exposure.
Skip the Powertools
Take extra care to NOT use any power equipment or allow your lawn care company to use string trimmers around the base of your tree. It is much too easy to cause further severe damage to the trunk and root flare.
Mulch is Better
If you haven’t planted at the base of your tree yet, we suggest you don’t. A nice layer of mulch is a great way to mitigate weed issues and keep your tree happy. In addition, mulch aids in water retention, instead of drawing water away from trees like groundcovers do.
What to Look For
If you are worried about aggressive groundcovers and notice any of the following symptoms that can signify girdling, it might be time to give us a call:
- early leaf drop in the fall
- delayed leaf emergence in the spring
- trees look nutrient-deficient
- tree canopy is thin
- dieback in upper tree canopy
- leaves are wilted, scorched, or smaller than normal
- poor shoot elongation
We are ready to diagnosis and remedy any issues caused by overgrown groundcovers and set your trees on the path to renewed health.
Posted: December 4, 2018