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War with Maple tree roots

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War with Maple tree roots

Post  LarrySC on 2/1/2013, 7:57 pm

I am a newbie and started my SFG two years ago. The first year was awesome! I had great produce from three of my 2' X 8' X 8” beds. Last year I was very disappointed. I had small plants and they never seemed to grow to any size. Two weeks ago I began to add the compost to the beds, I discovered that the bottom 5-6 inches were root bound with roots from somewhere. Further investigation revealed the roots were coming from under the weed shield I used for the bottom of my beds. While researching this major problem I was reminded that all of these three beds are within about 30’ of a Maple tree.
Further research suggested that weed shield will not stop these roots from sucking the moisture and nutrients from these beds. It was suggested that if I were to use a double layer of weed shied I could expect no more than two years of decent growth from these beds. Maple roots a very aggressive and will repopulate my beds. This situation defeats the greatest advantage of SFG, less work from year to year.
There are some suggestions from building a concrete wall 18” below the ground surface and at least 4” thick all the way around my beds to placing my beds on a concrete patio. The suggestion I plan to use is lining the beds with pond liner. The solution also requires frequent monitoring of the moisture in the beds and lining the bed to within an inch of the top of the bed sides. It was stated that this will get me five to six years of true SFG plant growth and production.
I find it year hard to believe that no one has encountered this undesirable infestation of Maple roots before. I also find it difficult to understand why the SFG literature does not caution against such a pest. Comments please.

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  RoOsTeR on 2/1/2013, 8:03 pm

Every situation is different and it would be hard to pinpoint all the pests and things you may run into. Table tops may be a great alternative for you.
And welcome!

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Table tops

Post  LarrySC on 2/1/2013, 8:13 pm

Thanks for your prompt response.

I do have one 4' X 4' table top. I also have 10 additional beds that range from 2' X 8' to 3' X 10'. The table tops only last about four years and I am told that the bottoms will rot. I didn't want the extra work.

Have you not heard of other SFG'ers having Maple tree root problems?

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  llama momma on 2/1/2013, 8:16 pm

If you didn't want full blown tabletops, you could still use plywood w/drainage holes plus weedcloth the bottom so mix doesn't fall through the holes, and place upon one layer of cinder blocks. I stained the blocks green to blend in with surrounding grass and to reduce the industrial look.

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  llama momma on 2/1/2013, 8:18 pm

oops didn't see your response about not wanting the extra work of replacing bottoms.

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  Lindacol on 2/1/2013, 8:31 pm

Check out the various threads for table tops (search on the top or bottom of the left column). Lots of us have used different material for the bottoms. Mine are old security screen doors.

Boffer showed several ways in this thread:

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t297-building-a-table-top-sfgsome-ideas

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  camprn on 2/1/2013, 8:52 pm

I feel your pain.

I have had similar infiltration of tree root hairs over the last 3 years and I am done with fighting them. I am excavating my effected boxes, putting bottoms in them and lifting them off the ground by only a few inches. I am choosing to go this route because table gardens are too much of a challenge for me and my limited carpentry skills and the gentle slope where my garden is.

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  LarrySC on 2/2/2013, 7:09 am

Thanks to all. I am canceling my order for the pond liner and biting the bullet and going for the suggestion to raise the beds off the ground. I’ll have to plan to replace the bed floors when they rot. I just would have liked to have seen a warning in the book about the possibility of root invasion.

Thanks again to all. Have a great garden year in 2013!

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  llama momma on 2/2/2013, 7:48 am

LarrySC
I would respectfully like to help and support you and also defend Mel's book. I found the place in the book that addresses tree roots. It's a quick one-liner on page 47 under the topic of Location. #3 says, "Stay clear of trees and shrubs where roots and shade may interfere." But in your defense I would have thought 30 feet away would be far enough too.

I think you will be very happy doing what it takes to outsmart those roots. I bet a lot of us have individual challenges. I have to critter cage all my boxes from the beloved barn cats who would use them as litter boxes. Chicken wire isn't the easiest material to work with but what a relief! to have an answer that works. And you will have peace of mind too. Very Happy

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  littlejo on 2/2/2013, 8:19 am

I didn't have any warning, but, after I 'got mad' (I have an Irish temper) my husband pointed out that even in the row garden, if we planted anywhere near a tree, the tree roots were a problem. I planted my SFG around a lg. pine tree. I did this because of the heat, I cannot handle it and the garden loves the shade, different areas get shade for part of day.
I haven't decided on a solution that will work long term. I just dug out the mm and put down more weed cloth and cardboard. 2 yrs. is max, so will have to plan on removing mm each 2 yrs. At least with the vermiculite, it makes it easy to dig out.
Jo

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  bnoles on 2/2/2013, 9:09 am

I read somewhere that Handy Plank makes a great material for the bottom of garden boxes. I think it is made from a concrete type material and will not rot nor allow roots to penetrate. You may want to look into this option vs plywood.

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  yolos on 2/2/2013, 10:03 am

bnoles Today at 9:09 am

.I read somewhere that Handy Plank makes a great material for the bottom of garden boxes

I think you mean Hardy plank (boards). The siding on my house is Hardy plank. And yes it does have some part of it made with concrete and is supposed to last a lifetime (at least as a siding).

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  bnoles on 2/2/2013, 10:05 am

You are right yolo, it is Hardy Plank. Thanks for the correction.... I am still working on my first cup. What a Face Embarassed

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  walshevak on 2/3/2013, 9:30 am

I swear by hardware cloth bottoms, supported, and weed block lining in my tabletops. I was worried about the plywood rotting also. Beds are only starting their 2rd year so we shall see. My first beds were lined with plastic instead of weedblock and the plastic is already deteriating. On a do over I would opt make all my beds at least 8" high. I may only put in 6 or 7" of MM but I at least have options for extra and room for mulch. I'm in 8A and like the extra depth for watering.

The wicking "pond beds" seem to be doing ok.
Kay

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  Hoggar on 2/4/2013, 11:28 am

My problem was, Star of Bethlehem I solved it by putting a layer of 6mil plastic under my box cut large enough to leave a 2" flap around the outside of the box. I have had no problems with my boxes since. Drainage isn't an issue because the excess can run out the sides. If you want to get real heavy duty you can get
ABS plastic sheet cut it to size and attach it to the bottom of the box or just set your boxes on it.

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Re: War with Maple tree roots

Post  toledobend on 2/4/2013, 12:11 pm

I used sheets of 4x8 Hardie sheets cut in half to make the bottoms for two 4x4 boxes. We built them in September and the gardens did very well this fall and winter. Since the sheets are fairly thin, I reinforced then with four 2x6 runners (three would probably been fine and also 2x4's would have been fine) against the "grain" pattern in the Hardie board which would also allow me to tow them to a different part of the yard. I drilled about fifty 1/4 inch holes and then covered it with weed cloth to keep the holes from ever plugging up. I ended up putting them on five stacks of cinder blocks to get them above big dog pee height, so they won't be moved around soon. Althoug it was not cheap, I used 1 x 7 1/4 plastic boards ($35 per 8 foot board) for the sides. I don't think i'll ever have to replace anything but some of the screws.

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