Cultivate soil without damaging tree roots

We have several large and small trees in our garden. The previous owners had the whole area gravelled. We have removed the gravel and want to sow grass instead. The ground is heavy clay and has become completely compacted and the tree roots are very close or on the surface. What is the best way to loosen up the soil without damaging the roots?


  • KamoKamo Posts: 41




    Some of the trees and their roots.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 25,301

    I think you'll be struggling to establish grass if you have a lot of trees.

    Grass needs light, moisture and free draining soil to do well. Round trees it's unlikely to get much of that. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • KamoKamo Posts: 41

    Thanks for your replies. I was going to add a couple of inches of top soil to the whole area to replace the gravel but will look into mushroom compost as well. I couldn't find any forks with extra tines guess my normal fork will do!!

    I'm going to buy a shade tolerant grass seed mix and see how it goes, at least then if it doesn't take I won't have spent too much on it, unlike turf, other areas for the new lawn are much more open.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 55,117

    Don't grass right up to the tree trunks - it's difficult to mow without damaging the bark of the trees, and it competes with the trees for water and nutrition - best to leave a bare circle around them - you could put some spring bulbs in around them ... little Siberian squills would look gorgeous, plant them and leave them to get on with it image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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