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What is the best way to stop my pear tree roots from invading and sucking the life out of my flower bed that is planted under it?

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    When you say 'under' the pear tree, how far under the canopy is the bed, and how far does it extend from the trunk to the outer edge? Please edit your question to give us more information, like how long the tree's been there, how big the bed is, whether you eat the pears, or photographs – Bamboo Sep 25 '14 at 9:11
  • Just had to say that your pear (flowering? Chanticleer?) is worth deferring to! If you want flowers you should plant in pots. Pots can be arranged at your whim wherever you want them and then put back where the exposure is best and company is gone. Best flowers are in the sun. There are shade plants that would produce flowers but I wouldn't compromise my tree. Impatiens are great and won't compete much with your tree and can do just fine for a season amongst the roots. Look for other places to put your flower beds with perennials. – stormy Sep 25 '14 at 21:11
  • @stormy Why not post an answer? It's discouraged to post what could be considered an answer in the comment box. Please see this meta post for details. – J. Musser Sep 25 '14 at 21:58
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Usually, I don't try to keep trees out of landscaped beds. But if you are going to garden under a tree (pear trees aren't the worst), you'll want to plant a shade garden. Probably a dry shade garden. There are a lot of good ornamentals that will tolerate growing under a tree. I'm not sure where you're located, that would help me recommend something specific. Usually it's also safe to go with a dry woodland plant that's native to the area.

Now, if the tree has not yet grown roots into the area, you can block many of the roots by installing a root control landscape fabric barrier. This usually goes about 12" into the soil, so doesn't control below that level. I rarely use the stuff, as you can very easily work with nature when dealing with trees over beds. You can also use something more substantial, as described by this answer on horsetail control. Again, I don't like intervening where I don't have to.

Trees don't suck the life from flower beds. They use water and nutrients, but both these thing are readded to the soil for orchard/ornamental trees anyway. If you aren't watering, or adding compost or fertilizer, that's another thing you could do.

  • Thanks for the comments. I live in Maryland. The tree has been there before I moved in. It's a flowering pear tree. It probably almost 20yrs old and as tall as a second story house. The bed starts about 3ft from the trunk and goes out about 10 ft.It's totally under the tree but get a small amount filtered light. My next step is to plant all hardy shade plants. But would like dome ideas on some type of covering to line the flower bed in order to help block the roots. – ellen Sep 26 '14 at 5:10

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