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Soil that has lots of roots in it

We have removed two large fir trees and want to create a flowerbed in their place with some feature evergreen shrubs/small trees and flowers/small shrubs - however the soil is so root bound and is also on a slope. It is really quite bare. We have thought about having sleepers to create a border and then fill the area with lots of soil to create a flower bed. Another idea is to plant 3 evergreen 'lollipop' type trees to create a feature (and to be able to have some lights on them)  with some low level plants underneath but I am not sure how they would look as the trees would be on a slope.  We really need a bit of inspiration so if anyone has any ideas we would be grateful please!  Also to suggest what type of plants will suit.


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,144
    Conifer roots rot fairly quickly in my experience so should be easy enough to remove after some good rains and a bit of patience.   Meanwhile fork out what you can and take an axe to the thicker ones.

    The soil will be impoverished so you'll need to add cartloads of well-rotted manure and garden compost.  Sold in bags at DIY stores if you can't source it in bulk.   A retaining wall is not a bad idea but I advise oiling the wood first and letting it soak for a day or two.  Ordinary olive oil for cooking is fine (not virgin) or cheap rapeseed oil.   Not linseed as it's sticky.

    As for planting, that depends on aspect, soil and exposure so try and post a pic and tell us where you are, which way the bed faces and whether your soil is generally acidic, neutral or alkaline and sandy, loamy, stony or clay.    Wooden or metal obelisks are good for lights too.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thank you very much for your response.  The bed gets some sun (especially now that the firs have gone) and it is near to a Laurel hedge which shields from wind.  We have a Cotinus purple plant that seems to do well in the soil so assume the soil is slightly acidic (we haven't tested it).  We tend to have clay soil in our garden with stones. Do you think that if we choose plants similar to Cotinus they may do ok in the soil?  I like the idea of the obelisk - as this will create a feature.  Thanks for your advice on this.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,144
    Cotinus doesn't care about acidity or alkalinity so that's not an indicator of your soil.   Try buying a soil test kit from the garden centre - not expensive - and use distilled water.  Look at what your neighbours are growing as that will also indicate what grows well in your area.

    Obelisks can be bought but that can be expensive or made - hazel poles tied with garden string are rustic or you can make them in a range of sizes from roofing lathes and timber.   Look for Geoff Hamilton's Cottage Garden book in the library for instructions and then paint in any colour you like.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053
    PS. For distilled water, use melted ice cubes.
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
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