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Working around roots from the neighbours  RSS feed

 
Posts: 8
Location: The Netherlands
bike kids urban
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Hello!
I’m starting a small permaculture project in my backyard in the Netherlands. We have just moved in this very small house. For this area it’s quite a big garden, but still very suburbian ;)
It has a high fence between us and the neighbours. They have a huge tree next to the fence, that looks like Some sort of pine and behind that a complete “forest” of blackberrie Bushes and some sort of small berries. They don’t seem to use it though. It is just there and the birds love it :)

But that fence is the perfect spot for my Apple and pear trees I’ve ordered. It gets the most sun.
The soil is full with plastic and sigarets and looks quite dead. I’ve started digging out the top layer to remove this and also getting rid of the tiles that are in almost the whole garden.
The problem is that the roots of the neighbours tree and Bushes grow Exactly where I want to grow my fruittrees :( I’ve removed a lot allready but I don’t want anything to happen with the neighbours plants.

How can I still plant my trees there? Dig a large area and free that from the roots, making a raised bed as high as I can, and fill it with better soil? Or is it better to move my trees a bit? They will not get as much sun, but the roots will have more space to grow.


(I’m sorry if there are any typo’s. English is not my native language, and i’m trying to type this on my phone with 3 kids running around :) )
11607CA7-1420-46CF-9EB9-3493BC9C12A9.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 11607CA7-1420-46CF-9EB9-3493BC9C12A9.jpeg]
It’s the fence on the right side of the picture
 
gardener
Posts: 2001
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Hello, and welcome to permies!

Here's my idea -- though I am  far from an urban fruit tree expert.

That pine tree is like a huge warm wall -- it's almost as good as a stone wall for planting your trees against.  It will block wind and reflect heat and warmth back onto your fruit trees, and it's much taller than any wall could ever be.  So that tree is your friend.  Even if you hated your neighbors you do not want to hurt that tree.

But I agree that planting your trees up against that fence/tree looks like the correct spot.

My thought: a healthy tree (and that one is) can handle a fair amount of root *disturbance*.  So I would consider digging out along that wall with great care, by hand, and trying not to cut or injure the large tree roots -- but yes removing the bad soil and trash and rubble from the spaces between them.  Then backfill with good soil, build a low raised bed over the entire area, fill *that* with good soil so that your own fruit trees have a layer to get started in where they aren't trying to force their roots through those of the established tree, and hope for the best.

If you do end up with a few substantial holes or pits down between the roots of that big pine, you might even consider lining them with something before you backfill with soil, just to keep the established tree from colonizing your new soil with roots before your own trees grow enough to do so.  The locations of those pits may also inform where you plant your own trees.

None of this has anything to do with conventional wisdom for fruit tree planting.  This is extreme creativity in action, trying to make something triumphant out of a cramped urban environment, turning a difficult challenge (that tree) into a valuable resource (a warm wall). 

Hope this helps!
 
Debora Slosser
Posts: 8
Location: The Netherlands
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Thank you for your reply! I love Some creative thinking and problem solving so this helps a lot. I don’t mind the tree. Anything green is better than concrete ;) so to think of it as a helper in my garden suits me Well. Hoping that raising the bed up to the fence, so to fill in all the grey concrete is enough. Putting something around the roots is a good idea! I’ll have a think about that.

I also have a spot on the other side of the garden, near the house next to the wall of the kitchen from the other neighbours. This spot is out of the wind but only has half of it that gets sun. So 1 tree would fit. I only worry about the roots of my tree against the foundations of the wall.

( I plan to paint this wall white again, and remove the tiling. We’ve moved in here only 3 weeks ago, so it’s still in the state the previous dwellers left it in. You should have seen the house! Terrible!)
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
This wall here.
 
garden master
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Dan has some great ideas there for your problem Debora. So good that I can't come up with anything any better.

If you could find some 55 gal. food grade plastic barrels, they do make excellent root barriers when cut to fit your space.

Redhawk
 
Debora Slosser
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Location: The Netherlands
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Dan has some great ideas there for your problem Debora. So good that I can't come up with anything any better.

If you could find some 55 gal. food grade plastic barrels, they do make excellent root barriers when cut to fit your space.

Redhawk



Thanks! I’ll have a look and ask around if someone has Some of those barrels
 
Posts: 298
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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I would take out one or more of those tiles on the ground, improve the soil with well composted manure or compost and plant your tree in the ground in the middle of the space. Alternatively; if you plant it along the property line I would do the same soil preparation, in the ground, and google the "espalier" pruning shape, so that you get the maximum benefit out of your tree. If you do use the espalier trimming style I would suggest not selecting a tree size smaller than semi-dwarf. Espalier requires a lot of pruning work, which means to me that the maximum length the tree grows along the property line would be ideal. This tree trimming shape would not be ideal if that pine tree is on the south side of your property.

 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
If you could find some 55 gal. food grade plastic barrels, they do make excellent root barriers when cut to fit your space.



Do you cut the bottoms out?

 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 4785
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Oh yes I cut out the bottom and trim the height to a few inches above the soil line. Usually I've gotten two to three rings from one barrel.
I planted some bamboo in one of these, that one I didn't take out the bottom and I cut it so 8 inches was above soil level since it was one of the creeping rhizome types, the owner of the property loved it since the bamboo didn't go invasive.
 
Debora Slosser
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Location: The Netherlands
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John Duda wrote:I would take out one or more of those tiles on the ground, improve the soil with well composted manure or compost and plant your tree in the ground in the middle of the space. Alternatively; if you plant it along the property line I would do the same soil preparation, in the ground, and google the "espalier" pruning shape, so that you get the maximum benefit out of your tree. If you do use the espalier trimming style I would suggest not selecting a tree size smaller than semi-dwarf. Espalier requires a lot of pruning work, which means to me that the maximum length the tree grows along the property line would be ideal. This tree trimming shape would not be ideal if that pine tree is on the south side of your property.



The tree is west side of the garden.
I’m hoping to get rid of Lots of tiles, except for paths to the gate behind the small shed, the small shed and the big shed in the back of the garden. My daughter would like a long path to do Some rollerskating :)
Also at the back if the garden we will keep our table for eating and playing outside because that spot is almost always in the shade from the big shed.

I’ve ordered 3 dwarf trees, 2 pears and 1 self pollinating Apple ( also have Apple trees in my neighbourhood) which are advertised as “bush size”. I will look up the style for the pruning! Thanks for the tip
 
Posts: 86
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Hello Deb,

Those trees appear well established and are likely to out compete anything planted that close to them.

As others have said, it looks like the right orientation for sun.

Due to the narrow nature of the area and a good fence, I suggest not to use the ground but get some large pots or tubs and plant the dwarf fruit trees in those. Then, place a trellis (lattice or horizontal wires) along the fence and train the trees as an espalier - lots of fruit in a small area and easy to maintain. They also can be taken with you if you move house.

Google Images: 'espalier' and you'll see quite an amazing array of choices.

Regards,

F
 
Debora Slosser
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Location: The Netherlands
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I’m also worried that those roots will out compete everything I plant there. I’m not keen on using pots and containers, but Maybe it is better.

I can also plant them in the middle of the garden but i’m Worried about wind. It really can be windy here. And because our old garden was lying in the same direction, I know it will hit the trees hard even with all the buildings surrounding them.

I hope I can plant something there along the fence. I really don’t want all those tiles. I am hoping to bring Lots of edible perennials in the garden.

We are saving to make a green sedum roof on that flat roof of the big shed.
Also if I cross the street I have a community garden where I can grow a lot of my annual veggies.
 
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I would suggest that you investigate the web page at [url=http://www.bamboogarden.com/barrier.htm[/url] which is an example of root barrier used to confine the spread of Bamboo . as it is not in your country or even continent it may not be a practical source for you but it does describe the technology very well.   The root barrier is of a thickness of 0.060 inches or about 1.5 mm  It should be installed so as to project above the soil surface so roots do not creep over the top undetected   

So long cutting off the roots do not endanger the tree I would recommend cutting off all the tree roots before installing the root barrier.   The use of plastic barrels as a source of material by cutting the barrels up is probably a comparable method and may be more practical, so I reference the  web site as it gives the technology involved and a reference as to how thick the barrier needs to be.
 
Debora Slosser
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Location: The Netherlands
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Thank you Don! I will look on the website!
 
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Location: NW England
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Given the suntrap location, the overshadowing leylandii to the west, and the wind, I'd choose trees with at least medium vigour rootstocks.
Spare flagstones could be offered on freecycle.
The leylandii will have raided your soil for nutrients, so any compost you bring in, and composting, will be beneficial. Your neighbour is likely to have a lot of woody waste, too much for his own use; with a shredder that's compost, and great for absorbing urine.
 
Posts: 35
Location: Ontario, climate zone 3a
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Similar to what Mr. Redhawk has suggested... in our area a popular pass-time in winter is tobogganing.  One of the cheapest methods for tobogganing is a plastic "flying carpet", essentially a rectangular piece of thick, flexible plastic, which can be purchased from the dollar store (or in my case, scrounged from a shed).  We have a raspberry patch in the yard, which is next to the vegetable garden.  When I first started working the patch I dug out all the raspberry roots from the garden side, and then dug a trench, inserting the magic carpets until they stood just an inch above the soil and then burying them again, overlapping them by several inches.  This has proven effective for three years so far to keep the wandering raspberries out.
 
pollinator
Posts: 944
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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One good thing about all that hard-scape (the tiles, the fences, the roof and walls of your house) is that it looks like it will hold a lot of the summer heat.  Apples love hot, warm, dry summers.  The hard-scaping will hold the afternoon heat well into the evening.

I wouldn't get too uptight about the neighbor's roots.  I don't think it's wrong to trim them back as you excavate for your own tree.  That huge tree will more than enough root mass to support itself.  If it were me, I would dig the hole for my new trees 4 or 5 times larger than the size of the pot, and I would cut back any roots that happened to come into the area.  Once your tree is established, it will be able to compete with that big tree, but to start off, I'd dig down and cut off any competing roots.  Why water the neighbor's tree?  Why fertilize their tree?  If you don't trim the roots of that big tree back, you'll be watering and fertilizing his tree, not your own.
 
Debora Slosser
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Location: The Netherlands
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I’ve been busy last week, watching the garden and because it stopped being only hot all the time, but got back to normal dutch weather, I could see that I could plant the trees in different spots. I’ve planted them in the 2 open spots in the garden. Because of the walls and fence on the east side they will be more protected from the cold east wind, in winter. And get a lot of sun from the south.

I didn’t want to cut in those roots of the tree too much. I don’t want it to weaken or die.

As far as the neighbours go: they don’t use their garden at all, and I don’t think they will trim those blackberries at all. The blackberrieroots that came under the fence, I did cut back completly.
I will dig down as far as I can without hurting the big tree and put down a rootbarrier there and build a high raised bed along the fence, and plant other things there.

I’ve been helping out in the community garden across the street as Well, and it looks like I can get a bigger space there! Some of the older People can’t work as much as they like, so they are willing to give their plot to me. That gives me Lots of options for planting. ( it’s a very nice community garden where People use a lot of permaculture principles, without knowing it. Like mulching, no dig, waterharvesting polyculture etc)
 
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