Growing Problems #360494 - Ask Extension


Growing Problems #360494

Asked September 07, 2016, 2:44 PM EDT

We've planted vinca ground cover in 2 areas in late May. There are two pictures attached that show the healthy area and unhealthy area in hopes that you can help us with this issue. Healthy area is on sloped hill and unhealthy area is in front yard on flat ground. Both areas mostly shaded. Had trouble in past growing anything looking healthy in front which happens to be under an oak tree. Please help?

Kenton County Kentucky

Expert Response


Do you mean that the "unhealthy" area is under the oak tree?

It's very hard to grow ground covers, grass, etc. underneath a well-established tree. The tree and the other plants compete for the same light, moisture, and nutrients. The tree, having an established root system in that area, will usually "win" the contest.  But it's not good for the tree or the other plants to have to struggle this way, either. The healthiest solution for the tree AND the vinca is to put the vinca somewhere else, and place mulch under the tree 2-3" deep in a very wide circle under the tree's shaded area. Here is a publication that explains in more detail how to handle the tree & ground cover situation:

Please feel tree to call your county's Cooperative Extension office and speak with the Horticulture or Agriculture agent for more information.

I hope this helps!

Michele Stanton Replied September 08, 2016, 8:31 AM EDT
Sorry to mislead you but the problem area is about 25 feet away from the base of the tree. Not directly under the tree. Does this change your answer in any way? 
The Question Asker Replied September 08, 2016, 9:05 AM EDT
It might.  When you planted the vinca, did you run into roots?  Tree roots can extend out far past the shade or "drip line" area.  If that doesn't sound like your situation, other problems to rule out are compacted soil, use of weed & feed products this season, use of sidewalk salt nearby, etc. which could negatively affect the young plants. If none of these issues apply to your situation, I recommend you call your county's Extension agent, who can help you do further trouble-shooting.
Michele Stanton Replied September 08, 2016, 9:35 AM EDT
How do I find who the Kenton County Extension agent is? When I call they direct me to you. Would like to have someone possibly see the area in person.
The Question Asker Replied September 16, 2016, 10:21 AM EDT

Please call me at 859-356-3155.  I'm the Horticulture Agent, and I'll try to help you figure this out.  Our office is located at the corner of Route 16 and Marshall Independence.


Michele S.

Michele Stanton Replied September 16, 2016, 11:27 AM EDT

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