Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:50 am
Location: Maryland

Shallow raised bed here?

Hey all,

I'm new to this forum so I hope I'm posting in the correct place.

Some back info: My backyard was severely neglected for years before I moved into the home. I've been here now for about three years and I've spent a lot of time cleaning it up. I would like to do a little bit of landscaping as well but I'm pretty new at it.

The pics below are of an area around mature tree with exposed roots that I don't know what to do with, if anything at all. In addition, there is a long metal pipe stuck in the middle of the tree that it has grown around.


Is there anything I can do to improve the look of this area? I was thinking about maybe building a shallow 12'x12' bed for some shade plants or a rock garden around the tree but (as there are exposed roots) I'm not sure if it would be a good idea.

Also, what to do about the metal pipe sticking out? I suppose I could try to saw through it and cut off the ends (leaving the middle of it still stuck in the tree) but I'd like to explore all options.

Thanks in advance!

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1152
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:26 am
Location: North Carolina

Well it is a hardwood possibly a maple or hickory. Gravel would be the answer of course your pet may not like it, and edging to keep the gravel in place then containers on top. It will be hard to trim that pipe so after cutting you may want to get a sledge and bend it down.

Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:50 am
Location: Maryland

Thanks for the advice! I hadn't thought of putting gravel down and setting containers of shade plants on top. I like that idea.

Regarding the pipe, it sounds a little difficult to trim it down but I'm not opposed to doing it. Part of me started trying to think up ways to just live with it--like painting it a hunter green or brown and attaching a hanging flower basket or a flag to one end. Might be really tacky though, haha.

Marlingardener, I'm not sure what kind of tree it is either. I'm pretty new at gardening and am also poor at tree ID. I'll try to get some more info and let you all know what I find!

Thanks again!

Cool Member
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:09 pm
Location: Attleboro, Ma

I was going to suggest some really nice containers with plants that tolerate shade just to give it a bit of appeal. I have the same problem in my backyard and the containers I got were really nice ones and it looked so much more taken care of after I set them there.

Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:50 am
Location: Maryland

I took some more photos this evening in case you guys wanted more visuals. I'm the mid-atlantic region, zone 6b specifically.

As you can see, the whole area is in rough shape. The plastic garden fence behind is just temporary, to keep my little ones from wandering away as the fence in the back belongs to the neighbor and is falling down in places :(

The neighbor's fence. You can see where it's sagging from the soil erosion into the storm drain, which is in the left behind the wild bush, in the neighbor's yard. I have yet to tackle that brush back there; there's poison ivy growing on it.

The little tree on the far left is a fig tree that my husband insisted on planting. I think he dreams of picking and eating fresh figs in the seasons to come, if the squirrels and birds don't get to them first :)


My little statue at night :)

This is a 4'x12' bed next to the house and the only "hardscape" in the backyard. It looks pretty sad in this photo :(

I would love any more suggestions you all have. Thanks!

Senior Member
Posts: 266
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:42 pm
Location: Lexington, KY.

I have yet to find a spot in shade that I can't grow epimedium (Barrenwort). If your looking to break up the gravel patch that has been discussed it would grow there and is a great plant. Water the first year and forget. I personally like the look and feel of pine straw in situations like this. As for the pipe- I would pound it out with a sledge. Any damage caused by the pipe sliding over the bark will heal in time. I certainly would try to get it out of the crotch as it will weaken an already weak-structured tree. I would much rather have a narrow crotched tree growing wood to wood vs. wood to steel.

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