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Loving Your Little Landscape

I have never been a natural gardener. For years, I struggled to keep basic houseplants alive, only to kill them at the first opportunity. It was difficult and stressful to buy a home with a yard, but I knew that I might be able to learn what I was doing wrong and correct the problem. To start off, I focused heavily on the lawn, and tried hard to keep it trimmed and well-maintained. Next, I cleaned up the flowerbeds. It was a lot of work, but I knew that it would pay off in the end. When I was done, my front yard was gorgeous, and guess what--it even stayed alive. This blog is all about loving your little landscape.

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Loving Your Little Landscape

Tips For Landscaping Beneath A Black Walnut Tree

by Charlotte White

A black walnut tree can be a thing of beauty in the yard. This dependable shade tree is prone to good health, and it has a pleasing natural shape that makes it a common choice as a street tree. It is also a toxic tree when it comes to other plants. Black walnuts produce chemicals that kill many plants that try to grow near them. This is an evolutionary tactic that would prevent weeds from encroaching too closely and competing with the tree for nutrients or water. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to landscape around a black walnut tree. The following tips can help with this issue.

Tip #1: Know the Safe Distance

Any soil surrounding the root zone is likely to be toxic. In general, this can reach out to an area 60 to 80 feet from the trunk. Most tree roots are concentrated beneath the drip line, which is the area from the trunk to the tips of the canopy branches above. If you aren't sure whether a plant can survive the toxicity of the black walnut, plan to grow it beyond this area just to be safe.

Tip #2: Stick With Grass

Most lawn grasses are tolerant of black walnut, although annual and decorative grasses may not survive. The main issue with grass beneath a walnut is the heavy leaf canopy can lead to dense shade, which may not provide enough sunlight for many common lawn grasses. A cool-season and shade tolerant grass should be considered, such as a fine fescue, as opposed to a sun-loving variety like Kentucky bluegrass.

Tip #3: Try Mulch

Mulching may be the most attractive option, especially if you prefer a more structured look. The mulch zone can stretch all the way out to the tree's dripline, or you can simply extend it out for the several feet around the trunk where shade is the densest and then plant grass outside of this mulch zone. Install a barrier, such as decorative bricks, to keep the mulch contained. Since weeds likely won't be a problem near the walnut, there is no need to place a thick mulch layer. Simply use enough to cover the ground and pull it back so it doesn't rest against the trunk of the tree.

Tip #4: Add Some Color

It is also still possible to have some color around a black walnut, since not all plants are sensitive to the toxins. Most flowering bulbs, including spring bulbs like crocus and hyacinth, and summer bulbs like daylilies, can thrive under a black walnut. Begonias and marigolds can also grow well. If you prefer greenery, some hostas and many ferns will also thrive in the conditions beneath a walnut, and these plants will require minimal maintenance beyond watering. To learn more, speak with a company like L & L Excavation & Landscaping.

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