Asked May 14, 2021, 10:11 AM EDT
Ottawa County Michigan
Wonderful questions and observations. You are correct that maples have shallow roots. And another great observation is the mixed information found online! I want to share this terrific resource about mulching landscape trees. I would personally choose mulch over a ground cover or plant in this situation. I think in the long run it will be easier for you and you won't have to worry about competing roots. Pay close attention to the thickness of mulch at the base of the plant, watching to not create the volcano. You could also add some fun annuals to a pot and stick them under your tree as an option.