spruce trees

Old 05-19-03, 10:28 AM
fin man
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Unhappy spruce trees

We have two large spruce trees in our front yard that overhang onto the lawn. They provide privacy and winter shelter to the front door but I see signs up the middle of the trees where there is very little new growth. The needles they shed are killing the grass(there must be 200lbs of dead needles that have collected underneath). They are approx. 50ft high. How far up the trunk can I cut back the branches and what could I plant under the trees that would help fill up the bare ground that will now be visible? It will be about 100sq.ft. This area recieves the sun from dawn until about 7:00pm?
Old 05-19-03, 11:45 AM
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Location: Taylors, SC
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Many large trees drop so much debris and provide so much shade that they manage to keep competing plants away. For that reason, there are few plants that do well under the canopy of such trees. The high concentration of the needles or leaves of such trees tend to modify the soil to favor the growth and health of the trees.

Generally, grass does poorly in shade. Anything that you plant under the tree will be competing with this behemoth for nutrition and water. In a natural setting, large trees rarely have much of anything growing beneath them.

I am a staunch supporter of not cutting away at trees in the hope of making them something that they are not.

In order to grow anything under the tree, choose a shade loving specimen. Traditionally, evergreens create acidic soil conditions conducive to rhododendrums, such as: azaleas. Otherwise, you will need to cart off the needles, get a soil test done to determine what needs to be added to the soil to bring it to a level that will support the target specimen. You may need to add up to 1/2" of soil with amendments to create a bed for the new plants.

Since individual plants vary so much, it would be helpful to consult with an arborist to determine how much of the tree can be removed without endangering its health while still providing the sunlight needed for the new plants.

Hope this helps.
Old 05-19-03, 01:23 PM
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fin man, I have the same situation. In my case, many of the branches below about 5 feet were dead. I removed all the branches. Like you, the grass was dead and it was covered with needles/pine cones. I threw some compost on top and planted hostas. I add more compost each year. So far the Hostas seem to be doing well.

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