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Underplanting ideas

Hi all,

We have recently moved and have an area out the front of the house with large trees but quite a empty space underneath them.

Any suggestions for plants/ small shrubs to fill the area would be welcome! There are lots of birds within the trees so native and anything for them to feed on would be bonus.

Thanks in advance!


  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 24,102
    I don't think anything much would grow there. You'll probably have to go with containers.
    Are there any weeds growing there? They might give you a clue about what and if to try planting anything in the ground.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • OmoriOmori North YorkshirePosts: 1,659
    edited January 2022
    Once you start digging you'll find the ground to be very dry and full of roots. That said, in similar circumstances I've had success with variegated ivy (eg, 'Glacier'), hellebore (the one I have is 'Double Ellen White'), and bergenia. You'll want to amend the soil though, these types of trouble areas need more tlc if you want to have anything growing there. You'll also need to water while they establish themselves. I believe lesser periwinkle as well, but I don't grow that. Oh, and lamium.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Wirral (free draining sandy soil)Posts: 1,760
    Very little will grow under the conifers due to their roots and thirst but you could try planting spring bulbs like Anemone blanda in September for spring colour.  Is the grassed area to the right suitable for planting or is it too close to your car? 

    For birds, you can't go wrong with a rowan tree (Sorbus) - they love the berries.  I've got one growing alongside my neighbour's greedy laurel hedge and it's very happy.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,201
    It will largely depend on what part of the country you're in and what aspect the bed is.  :)

    In wetter areas, and if it's facing into the prevailing weather, it's easier. Spring bulbs, Cyclamen, Hellebores, Brunnera, Ajuga, Heucheras, native Primulas etc will all be fine in shady sites, if they have enough moisture to establish initially, and if you add organic matter to mulch the area regularly. Hardy geraniums too. Many ferns, London Pride [Saxifraga urbium] and the aforementioned Ajuga will grow in drier shade. 
    There's other too, but those spring to mind.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,744
    A creative solution would be to plant some climbers on either side of the trees, away from the dry/root area.  You could then use training wire or trellis, and train the climbers horizontally, to screen the tree trunks. I personally would use an evergreen climber. Something like Ivy or Pyracantha would work. 

    Failing that, I would as someone above suggested, put large troughs in front of the trees, and plant into those.
  • borgadrborgadr KentPosts: 544
    Out in the woods around here, I see Asplenium (hart's-tongue fern) and holly growing in the darkest, most inhospitable and otherwise plant-less spots under trees. It's maybe not that inspiring or unusual but at least it's something.
  • Mahonia and Osmanthus burkwoodii seem to do well in shade here and might be options.

    Happy gardening!
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