coyote400
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How big should planting bed be for a new tree?

I have just planted a Japanese Maple (Bloodgood) in a pre-existing planting bed in my front yard. The tree is about 6 feet high, with a diameter of about 46 inches. It is sitting in the approximate center of a bare patch of ground (old planting bed for now-dead birch trees) which is a quarter-circle with a diameter of just over 9 feet. The little thing looks ludicrous there. I would like to reduce the size of the bed to a circle of appropriate diameter and sow grass in the rest of the space. When I ask nursery people they talk to me about drip lines, not having competing plants, etc., but won't be specific. And trying to look this up on Internet or these forums just yields too many irrelevant items. I have no experience with these sorts of things, but can't afford to pay a landscaper in the current economy.

There is urgency in that I am trying to put the property in shape to be sold and so would like to plant grass ASAP to improve the aesthetics. Can someone please suggest what I should do?

Thanks.

bullthistle
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Perennials will not compete as much for mositure as a woody plant so depending on what you like daylily, soapwort, iris, etc., you could fill in the bed instead of seeding and plant bulbs in the fall and then add mulch will make the maple stand out, depending on when you will list your residence which could be a bad time depending on your market. If you seed you will have to water at least every other day depending of course on mother nature but just make certain you don't make the bed too small that the tree will get whipped when you edge.

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applestar
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It may look small now but Japanese maple is a spreading tree and will most certainly grow to spread over the entire area.

Rather than sowing grass seeds, which will only grow sparsely, if at all, this time of the year, I would recommend that you get some flowering bedding annuals (You can get them at discounted prices now, just look for ones that are not too overgrown in their little pots. Shop around: some are better cared for than others) -- giving some thought to color, shape, and height -- and fill the space that way. Mulch under the tree to at least the end of the branches, another foot more in diameter wouldn't go amiss, plant and mulch around that. The splash of color will add the requisite "curb appeal" and the new owners can decide what they want to plant there in the fall and next spring.

If you prefer, you might also use some of the space to add a tasteful garden ornament like a solar lantern or fountain, or an uplight to shine through the J. maple leaves.

coyote400
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Thanks, but can

Thanks to bullthistle and applestar for their responses. However, I just want to know how big the bed has to be for the tree and only the tree to survive the transplantation and thrive for the next year or two. I don't want to fool with annuals, perennials, etc. Anything I don't need for the tree I want to return to being lawn. If that means sod instead of seed, so be it. My thinking longer term is that, if I am still here and the tree needs a bigger bed I can expand it as and when required. Is there some flaw in my thinking?

Thanks again.

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applestar
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Well, we both mentioned it, but as I understand it, this is not really the right time of the year for sowing lawn grass seeds. The usual recommendation is early spring and fall.

Also, I think I indicated the diameter needed for the tree -- at least as wide as the branches spread, but adding 1 foot or more to that is better. I guess I can add that the other rule of thumb is that it should be at least 1' beyond the current rootball. I usually choose whichever is bigger.

coyote400
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Thanks again

Thanks, applestar. Sorry, but I missed the fact that you did answer my question. Sometimes I do that. Old age is a terrible thing. Thanks for your patience, as well as your advice. Root ball was only 16 inches, but I was thinking in the terms you describe - 1 foot beyond the diameter of the tree, or about 4 to 4.5 feet. I think that will look good on the site.

Re prospects for grass, I am encouraged by the fact that a lawn/tree service planted in an empty bed last Sept and had a good growth before winter. With an extra 2 months to go, I thought planting now might produce a good result. I have in-ground sprinklers and a controller that allows me to water up to three times a day very selectively (as to zone).

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