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What can i do with this area (that doesn’t grow) under a tree on a slope?

Hi everybody

I’m after picking your brains again... Just a quick recap to say we’ve just moved into a house that had been unlived in for a while. The Garden is a decent size and a lot of it is on a slope. To the right of the garden there is a huge tree that we want to keep but it was severely out of control (hence years of doing nothing with it) and it created a large shaded patch in the garden. I’ve now cut the back a large portion at the bottom of the tree and the light has improved dramatically. We intend to keep the tree because of the wildlife it attracts. So, you can see from the photo (which I will add later when I have reduced the image size on my pc necessary for this website) that there is a tree on slope. When we moved in a few weeks ago the only things that were growing underneath the tree were nasty, prickly things. Creeping thorns, nettles, holly and a whole host of other stuff that some even pricked through my gloves. Lots of moss on the grass below too. So, I spent 3 days clearing it all up and I’m left with this Black, bare patch under the tree. I have treated the grass at the bottom of the slope with a commercial all in one moss killer/lawn promoter etc and now intend to reinstate grass there below that tree now the light has improved. So, I’d appreciate your ideas what I could do with that area directly under the tree. I can’t plant grass seed on it because the soil is quite hard and a lot of roots from that tree are literally at the top of the soil. Also, mowing around the tree and top of the tree roots would be a pain. So, I’d live your ideas with the following pre requisites:

Must be very low or no maintenance at all for the year. Working hours leave me little time for gardening and the time I do get to be in the garden I like to sit and enjoy it as opposed to working in it. 

I am planning a hot tub or paddling pool for the kids close by on a concreted section so if your low/no maintenance ideas are plant friendly then nothing that will attract lots of Stingers or flying nasties that will put the kids off. 

As you can probably tell I’m not much of a gardener. I’m more of a person who likes to sit and enjoy a garden than work in it. I thought of a rockery but wondered if the tree would have any bearing on the rocks underneath?

Let me have your ideas kind people. 


  • brackenbracken Posts: 91
    Primroses, bluebells and cowslips will grow well in these conditions and will spread quickly.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,249
    First of all wait for any regrowth from the stuff you have cut back, and spray with glyphosate (spray in the early morning, take immense care to avoid spray drift, wear appropriate PPE). To be sure, wait and see if any further regrowth occurs & do a second treatment if necessary. A bit of patience now will be hugely labour saving in the long run.

    If you want a low/no maintenance planting, Symphytum 'Hidcote Blue' will cover the area in semi-evergreen leaves that will prevent weeds from taking hold. It will spread into other borders so it's best in an isolated bed separated from the rest by mown grass. It is good as an underplanting for shrubs as it stays quite low, so you can add in some shade-tolerant shrubs, some suggestions here.

    Re 'stingers and flying nasties', people tend to get stung by wasps attracted by human food and drinks rather than bees and bumblebees quietly going about their business pollinating flowers.
  • NorthernJoeNorthernJoe Posts: 660
    We have wild garlic and iirc  vinca minor. Natives and very common round here. Grows under trees and around roots quite well. Nothing needs to be done to them once established. However garlic smells aren't everyone's favourite aroma. We got the house with them established and use the wild garlic in season for cooking. Plus it's in our wildlife garden anyway,  away from the house.

    Ours is a slope garden with plenty of trees. Including what looks like a large,  old,  topped off leylandii. Nothing grows under that except a few wild garlic that has spread to the trunk. We're thinking of throwing a few woodland mix seeds down in the barren bit where the branches were to the ground. 

    We also cut back the lowest branches which really let the light in. 
  • Here's the image...
  • Hey...Wild Garlic...That's a great idea.  Would it grow in this area? Saying that, what a bonus that would be if we could grow any other edible stuff in that section...
    So, now I have uploaded the pic you can see by looking at the tree itself where I had to cut back the low hanging out of control branches.  What you are looking at now is massively more spacious and lighter since I cut back the branches.  The 'Thing' that is being removed was some sort of (very prickly) holly plant.  The whole shaded area was covered and caked in very long strands of thorny bushes and prickles as well as lots of creeping ivy vines.  You can see from the white box pointing to the exposed Tree roots that mowing that area is not an option. 
    Thanks in Advance all.  
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    For someone with not much time you are doing well.
    Can I see several dead conifers at the back?
    They will not regrow so while you are on a roll take them out and get a bit more light into the area.
    I did say you might not have much time for sitting with a drink, at least for this year!
  • Ha ha. Yes, we moved in and took a week off work to tidy the place up. We are sad about the conifers. We love them. The privacy they give is great. Will they never recover because if not I want to replace them. 
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    No once they look like that it's terminal I'm afraid. A nice mixed hedge would be a good replacement in the autumn when you can buy bare root plants more cheaply.  It would encourage wildlife with flowers and berries. 
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,067
    I thought from the title you didn’t want anything that grows! So I was thinking along the lines of a raised shady seating area at the bottom or a site for a garden shed 😃 
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Sorry, maybe I didn’t make myself clear on the growing front...
    when we moved in nothing (other than nasties) were growing under the tree. Now I have cleared them I want to utilise that area for something nice. If that ‘something nice’ idea grows then this should be low/no maintenance. Now I’ve read some of your comments I’m thinking of maybe a small rockery integrating some wild garlic and some of those shrubs mentioned earlier, unless there’s anything else edible/wild/east to grow that would fit in here? 
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