I have a huge Magnolia tree in my backyard in Albany, NY. There is an area roughly 15 feet x 15 feet under the tree where nothing will grow. There are no roots showing above ground, but I am sure they are there, just under the surface sucking out all of the nutrients and water. My question is: What on earth should I do with the space under the tree? Given all of the flower petals and leaves to clean up, I want something that is easy to clean up. Can I put down river rock or bark mulch and some large stones to make a rock garden of some sort? Is it okay to build up over the root area like that?
Beneath a Shade Tree
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
You have a few options. First, you could try planting something that does well under trees, like ivy or pachysandra. Or, you could go with the rock garden idea or mulch the area, as long as the rocks or mulch were not too deep. You could also consider building a deck under your tree.
I would not advise adding additional soil. This would cause stress on the tree roots and would not correct the problem anyway as the tree would still continue to use up all the water and nutrients in the area.