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Mass plantings among tree roots can be a major hassle … but there’s a simple way out. Photo: ParentingPatch, Wikimedia Commons

It’s one thing to want to plant a few plants here and there in a tree’s root zone, but quite another to want to install a mass planting, like a ground cover or a flower bed. Digging 250 holes to receive 250 plants in a mass of roots that won’t give way easily is a monster task that goes far beyond the limits of the laidback gardener.

Instead, use the “planting with newspaper” tip to make things easy.

Just cover the soil with newspaper or cardboard and plant away to your heart’s content!

Cover the entire sector with 7 to 10 sheets of newspaper (or cardboard, if you have no newspaper available) and cover that with 8 inches (20 cm) of good topsoil. Now do your planting. It will be easy enough in such light soil and the newspaper or cardboard will prevent tree roots from growing back too quickly, giving your plants the time it takes to settle in. In addition, 8 inches (20 cm) of soil poured over a tree’s root system is not enough to damage it. So everyone will be happy!20170925C

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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