How to put stones around a tree

Landscape Ideas Around Trees | Davey Tree

When you want to give your landscape a polished look, a rock or stone tree ring is the perfect go-to.

It’s super easy to learn how to landscape around trees. With the right tools and tips, you’ll have a tree border up and running in a few short hours or less!

So, without further ado, let’s walk through how to create a rock or stone tree ring.

How to build a border around a tree

Use this step-by-step guide to place stones or rocks around your tree.

  1. Pinpoint your tree’s dripline, i.e. the area directly under the tree’s canopy. To do this, make a note of the widest-reaching branch on the left and right side of the tree. The spot on the ground directly below the tip of those branches is the dripline.
  2. Mark that area all the way around the tree with a rope or spray paint. Your rock or stone border should sit just outside of the dripline so it doesn’t interfere with the tree’s roots.
  3. Dig a 3 to 5-inch-deep trench, making sure it’s wide enough to fit the rocks or stones you have.
  4. Line the trench with a thin layer of mulch.
  5. Place the rocks or stones along the trench with an equal amount of space between them. As you go, secure them with a rubber mallet. Once all your stones or rocks are placed, you're all set!

Building a tree ring on uneven ground

Adding a stone or rock border is a little trickier when you’re dealing with uneven ground, but it’s doable. You can still dig a trench as instructed above, but instead of digging an even 3-5 inches, you’ll have to dig to a depth that makes the trench level all the way around. To do that, determine the difference in height between the high side and low side, and dig accordingly to even the two out.

Landscaping around trees with rocks

The steps above cover how to create a rock garden around trees. But before you get to digging, think about what rock color and size will enhance your yard. When you have a look in mind, decide whether you’ll buy rocks or collect them from your favorite outdoor spot. Finally, remember to hose the rocks down once they are placed to clean them up.

Landscaping around trees with stone

The steps above are perfect for building a one-layer stone tree ring. If you’re building a multi-layer border, those steps still apply, but there are a few other things to keep in mind:

  1. Dig your trench low enough to bury the first layer of stones a few inches deep.
  2. Use a level to make sure the stones are even as you place them.
  3. As you stack, avoid lining up the crevices between stones and instead use a stone to cover up the opening on a lower layer.

What to put under rocks or stone to prevent weeds

Mulch and landscape fabric are two options for preventing weeds from cropping up under your tree ring. Check out this take on the pros and cons of landscape fabric.

Guide to edging around trees and mulch beds.



  • Landscape Design

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12 Best Tips for Landscaping Around Trees

The Challenges Around Trees


While mature trees bring shade and beauty to a residential landscape, the ground around their trunks can become a barren blight. Blame thirsty roots that draw up all the water and heavy branches that prevent sunlight from reaching the soil, making it tough for other plants to thrive. Fortunately, with the tips ahead, you can transform those desolate spots, adding color, texture, and other design elements—while maintaining the health of the tree—to make your yard the envy of the neighborhood.

RELATED: 10 of the Best Trees for Any Backyard

DO maintain the existing soil level at the trunk.


One common mistake that homeowners make is to create a raised border around a tree and then fill it in with soil to create a planting bed. The additional soil around the trunk can cause the bark to rot, leaving the tree susceptible to disease and insect infestation. If you want a raised bed, consider constructing an inside border one to two feet away from the trunk to keep the soil from smothering the base of the tree.

DON’T add soil over turf.


If making a garden bed, dig out any existing lawn grass before adding soil. You may assume that grass would simply decompose under the soil, but if it’s thick it can create a layer of dense thatch that blocks water and oxygen from reaching the tree roots. By removing grass before building the bed with soil, the tree roots will receive the nutrients they need to keep the tree healthy and strong.


DO select plants adapted to the special light conditions under the tree.


Some trees, such as maples and magnolias, allow dappled sun through their boughs while others, including most evergreens, permit virtually no sunlight near their trunks. Before choosing plants, observe the amount of shade under the tree at different times of the day. Deep-shade plants such as ferns and hostas can thrive nearest the trunk, while semi-sun varieties like lily of the valley and coral bells can grow under the perimeter of the tree’s branches.

RELATED: 15 Plants for Where the Sun Don't Shine

DON’T damage tree roots when planting.


Trees including white oak and hickory send down deep roots, but others, such as maple and cypress, have roots just beneath the surface, or, in some cases, even extending above the ground. Cutting into these roots with a shovel can severely damage a tree. Instead, use a hand trowel and carefully scoop out as much soil as you need to fit new plants into place. If you run into a root, stop digging and select a different spot for the plant.

DO mulch when establishing plantings beneath a tree.


Whether you’re creating an entire raised bed or just tucking a few ferns here and there, the tree’s roots will continue to absorb the lion’s share of the water in the soil. Adding two to three inches of mulch around the base of new plants will help keep moisture in the soil so you won’t have to water constantly. Use either commercial mulch, such as pine straw or wood chips, or recycled dried leaves.


DON’T pile mulch against the tree trunk.


The same rule that goes for soil goes for mulch–don’t cover the base of the tree trunk. Leave eight to 10 inches of bare ground around the tree trunk when adding mulch.

DO consider bricks and rocks as a plant alternative.


Sure, plants are pretty around the base of a tree, but they require water and maintenance in the form of regular fertilizing and occasional trimming. If you’d haven’t time to care for plants, consider an attractive arrangement of rocks; this is an especially good option for trees with roots that extend above the ground, which make planting difficult. Create an outside border of bricks, large stones, or commercial edging to keep small rocks from tumbling out on the lawn. Remember to leave eight to 10 inches between the rocks and the tree trunk.

DON’T use solid plastic sheeting under rocks.


Plastic landscape sheeting creates an impermeable barrier between the rocks and the soil. While this helps prevent weeds from growing between the rocks, it can damage trees, blocking oxygen and water from reaching the roots. A better option is to use porous landscape fabric beneath the rock layer and then pull stray weeds by hand should they appear.

RELATED: Don't Make These 8 Mistakes in Your Front Yard


DO incorporate a large tree into an outdoor living area.


If you wish to put a deck or a patio where a large tree already thrives, you needn’t cut it down to proceed with your construction plans. Building around the tree will give you the best of both worlds: The deck or patio will provide attractive landscaping and you’ll have instant shade for your entertaining area.

RELATED: 6 Fast-Growing Shade Trees

DON’T crowd the tree with a deck or patio.


The inside perimeter of a deck built around a tree should be a minimum of two feet from the tree’s trunk to allow the trunk to grow, farther if you anticipate more growth. The inside border of a patio (because it’s solid and will block water and air) should be three to seven feet (or more) away from the tree to give the roots plenty of surface area to absorb water. Plants or rocks can be used to landscape the space nearer the trunk (see above).

DO add relaxing elements to under-tree landscaping.


A mature tree with ample headspace beneath its branches is just begging for a charming stone bench, birdbath, or hammock. If you have the space, turn the area beneath a shade tree into a delightful spot for enjoying a cup of tea and a good book after a long day’s work.


DON’T neglect the nighttime scene.


After all the hard work that went into landscaping around your trees, don’t leave them in the dark when the sun goes down. Make the most of your new yard design by adding a few well-placed accent lights around the base. By installing solar or low-voltage landscape lights to softly illuminate plantings and rocks, you’ll incorporate a whole new design element in the project.

Trim the Trees


Give your trees the star treatment.

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Decoration of tree trunks (photo)

When planning the design of the garden, sometimes we forget about the near-trunk circles of trees. Let's see how you can and should use them to decorate the site.

When caring for a tree, it is necessary not only to cut the branches in time, to whiten the trunk, but also to help the roots develop by treating the trunk circle. There are several ways to design it, allowing you to improve the root system of the tree, and at the same time transform your garden.

Trunk circle - what is it

Trunk circle of fruit and other trees is a piece of soil around a tree, approximately equal to the diameter of the crown, which can and should be used in garden decoration. This circle plays an important role in the life of trees - it helps in the "delivery" of oxygen, moisture and fertilizer to the roots.

Treatment of the trunk circle

For young trees (up to 2-3 years old), the optimal diameter of the trunk circle is 1.5-2 m, and then, by the 6-7th year of tree growth, it is necessary to increase the size of the trunk circle to 3 m. October - early November, the site for the future trunk circle must be dug up in order to get rid of pests wintering in the soil.

Do not dig deep into the shovel - this can damage the roots. A depth of 6-10 cm near the stem is enough, and as it moves away from it - no deeper than 15-20 cm (for stone fruits - 10-15 cm). The shovel should be held edge-to-edge against the tree to minimize damage to the roots.

If the soil is light, it is best to simply loosen it with a fork. Before whitewashing, when you clean the trunk from diseased and dried bark, cover the near-stem circle with oilcloth to prevent harmful microbes from entering the ground.

How to arrange a trunk circle

For the first 5 years of a tree's life, it is better to keep a tree trunk circle under black fallow, that is, not to plant plants in it, but to weed out weeds and loosen the soil. This will help keep moisture in it longer.

The frequency of treatment depends on the weather: in the spring-summer period, the near-stem circles are usually loosened 3-4 times, but if precipitation is rare, then the frequency can be increased up to 5-6 times per season.

You can make a flower garden out of the tree circle. To do this, you need to choose plants that will not only look spectacular under a tree, but will also be able to take root well. In order to arrange a flower garden in the near-trunk circle, the tree trunk must be at least 60 cm high, and the branches must be raised.

For a flower garden near the trunk, choose shade-tolerant, low-growing plants with not too deep root systems.

The trunk circle can also be kept under turfing: sow ground cover grasses and then, when they grow to 10-12 cm, mow them regularly (8-10 times per season). It is not necessary to remove the cut grass - after decomposition it will feed the soil, but it is better to chop the high grass. Suitable for cultural sodding of the near-stem circle: meadow fescue, bent grass, white clover, etc.

One of the most effective ways to retain moisture in the soil is mulching. It is possible to mulch the near-stem circle after planting the seedling (mulch layer - 4-5 cm, radius of the circle - 0.7-1 m). This protects the roots from freezing, improves the structure of the soil, and prevents the formation of a soil crust. Warming the trunk circle with mulch also slows down the growth of weeds.

Mulching trunk circles

To mulch the trunk area of ​​a tree, mark a circle of the required diameter, remove the sod, dig a low border around the perimeter and cover the circle with spunbond, on which then pour mulch. The materials used to mulch tree trunks are quite diverse.

Gravel and pebbles

Colored glass

Cones and needles of coniferous trees

Wood chips or sawdust

Fallen leaves

What to plant in the trunk circle

Flower beds are a traditional decoration of the garden, and decorating the trunk circle with flowers is a great idea for a bright garden design. Planting in trunk circles begins with soil preparation.

Carefully dig the ground, removing weeds, stones and debris, loosen and make holes. Cover the bottom of the holes with a thin mesh or non-woven material so that plant roots do not intertwine in the future. Then pour sand, pebbles or gravel - this will provide the flowers with normal drainage.

The next step is to fill the holes halfway with earth (you can add a fertile soil mixture) and place the plants so that 2-3 cm of the root collar remains above the surface, tamp the earth and water the flowers.

Plants for the tree circle must be carefully selected. It is worth giving preference to shade-tolerant flowers, for example, host, fern, volzhanka, buzulnik.

Crocuses, hellebores, lungworts, anemones, blueberries, lilies of the valley grow well and look well in the near-trunk circle of spring-flowering plants.

Summer flowers growing in scattered shade, and therefore under a tree - monarda, geranium, astilbe, bluebell, daylily, stonecrop, etc.

Some plants can protect the tree from pests and diseases. Nasturtium will drive away the apple sucker, marigolds will scare away aphids and nematodes, and lilies of the valley will prevent the appearance of fruit rot.

Celandine and primroses feel great under plums, subulate phlox, daisies feel great under pears. In the birch canopy - tiarella and tenacious, under the crown of conifers - euphorbia and saxifrage.

What to plant in the trunk circle of an apple tree

When arranging a flower garden in the trunk circle of an apple tree, choose unpretentious plants with a shallow root system. Often white clover is sown under this tree - with further digging, it will perfectly fertilize the soil.

Periwinkle, muscari, balsams, pansies, nasturtium, etc. will take root under this fruit tree. In order to get rid of ants in the garden, celandine is planted.

How to feed flowers in the tree trunks

In early spring, fertilize flowers at the foot of trees with saltpeter or urea at the rate of 1 tbsp. per 1 sq.m (can be scattered throughout the garden). At the end of June, feed the plants in the near-stem circle with any complex fertilizer, and in September, cut off the faded plants and mulch the circle with compost (3-7 cm layer).

You can also cover the trunk circle for the winter with garden soil, and if the winter turned out to be frosty, then periodically throw snow on the trunk circle. This will keep the roots of the tree from freezing.

Properly treating tree trunks in the garden, you will not only "update" the design of the site, but also improve the "well-being" of the trees themselves.

Trunk circles around trees

Trunk circles around trees - what is it? Arrangement.

Many of us have our own plots with completely different plants. They have different heights, crown shapes, they can be conifers, decorative deciduous and fruit trees. All of them have different growing conditions and purposes in the garden.

We must not forget that a huge number of trees adorn our city: they grow on the streets, parks, squares, industrial zones, kindergartens and schools. Many of them decorate squares with administrative buildings, shopping centers, parking lots and alleys. In any case, each planted tree has a part of the earth under its crown, conventionally called a trunk circle.

This piece of land should not remain just a circle of earth, but in each individual case it must be properly equipped. We will try to tell you how to do this correctly, but first we need to remember some points.

Everyone knows well planting pattern : we lower the seedling into the previously prepared planting hole, the root system of the tree (it can be open or closed, being in an earthen coma) should feel quite spacious, while avoiding creases or tucking roots.

Then our task becomes - to correctly expose the seedling , namely to make sure that its root neck is clearly at ground level.

After that, we begin to pour the soil into the planting hole, slightly compacting it. Having finished planting, along the edges of the planting pit, you need to make an earthen side and water the plants abundantly. As a result of this, we will get a near-stem circle, and a side, poured from the ground along the perimeter of the circle, will not allow water to spill.

Now we can say with confidence that the trunk circle is the distance from the center of the tree trunk to the tips of its root system .

If an orchard is laid out on your site, then fruit trees should remain in this condition and with such a circle around the trunk. The explanation for this position is very simple - the root area should remain open , because a fruit-bearing tree constantly needs organic and inorganic top dressing, which means that after fertilization, the top layer of soil in the near-trunk circle must be dug up (this is especially true if compost or rotted manure is introduced into the soil).

Very often gardeners cover the area near the trunk circle with mulch (shredded pine bark), this is a long-known and excellent technique in gardening. Mulch prevents the growth of weeds, retains the necessary moisture in the soil, and improves its physical condition. And the smooth edge of the lawn will give your garden a sense of neatness and grace.

A separate group composition can also be combined with a common circle . Thus, we will get rid of the problem of lawn grass dying under a dense canopy of trees (remember that the lawn will not grow in the shade), and in addition we will get a separate attractive accent in your garden.

It is not uncommon for homestead owners to go to great lengths to make their garden look especially good. A favorite technique in this case is the edges of the trunk circles are lined with a curb stone . This technique works well if you have row plantings on the lawn along a path, house or fence.

In this case, a high curb made of natural stone or clinker bricks is built around the trunk. Evening lighting turns the garden into a fairy tale. This presentation of framed and illuminated wood works especially well in areas with relief.

Varieties of borders inscribed in the trunk circle can be completely different. In this case the border is grown from evergreen shrub , which is kept at the right height all the time. Inside the circle, you can pour mulch, this will give the composition a finished look.

These solutions can be used on your own property, as well as in parks or squares.

For a country house or summer cottage, if the design is made in a natural style, a wooden border is more than ever suitable.

If your courtyard is completely paved with , you can organize a green island right in the center and plant your favorite tree in it, then the circle near the trunk will be this paradise island.

A very beautiful effect can be achieved if the circle near the tree trunk is covered with small gravel or pebbles . The color of the coating must be light, so that the contrast with the lawn is stronger. This solution is good for large areas with mature plants. This can be done in city parks, residences, reception houses, etc.

Sometimes we puzzle over how to arrange a sidewalk area in a place where trees are planted. Actually the solution is very simple.

Whichever option you choose, the main thing is to provide water access to the root system of the plant and prevent soil from washing out, which will immediately pollute the sidewalk.

If you have a large tree in your garden, and its crown is very wide and spreading, it's time to think about how to create a cozy seating area. You don't need to spend a lot of money for this. A wooden circular bench with soft seat cushions is an excellent solution to this issue.

And finally, the most versatile and win-win option for arranging a tree circle is to break a flower bed in this place.

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