February/March 2022 Garden Solutions
By Kelly Murray Young | Illustration by Gary Hovland
There is a large mesquite tree that covers our entire backyard. Nothing grows beneath it, leaving the soil bare in the shade below. We love the tree for the shade and don’t want to remove it, but our dogs are forever tracking in the loose soil. What can we do to cover the soil without harming the tree?
You may consider consulting with a landscape designer to help you think through how you want to use the yard and determine where to put paths and seating areas beneath the tree. Mulch, either natural or rubber, is a low-maintenance option. You can have loads of tree mulch delivered, sometimes for free from local landscape companies. Rubber mulches, often made from recycled tires, offer durable, permeable pavement. One drawback to rubber mulches is they can get quite hot in direct sunlight. In your case, the heavy shade of the mesquite would eliminate that problem. Another option is rock mulch, or gravel, which comes in a large variety of colors, shapes and sizes.