15 Different Styles of Landscaping Around Trees

Multi-branched tree with wood deck surround

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

The ground beneath a tree is often neglected, resulting in bare dirt, exposed tree roots, and stray weeds. The traditional method of landscaping beneath or around a tree was to edge it in brick, stone, or rubber. But there are plenty of imaginative ways to landscape around an existing tree that will complement its natural beauty while keeping it healthy. The types of plants you choose will depend on your climate and surroundings and the style of your existing landscaping. Get inspired by these ideas for landscaping around trees that will help beautify your backyard or enhance your curb appeal.

  • 01 of 15

    Plant a Ring of Tulips

    landscaping around trees

    Finding Lovely

    A ring of tulips encircles a mature tree on the lawn of this home from Finding Lovely. Choosing a single flower adds a strong color accent that makes a statement come spring.

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  • 02 of 15

    Spruce Up Bare Ground With Succulents

    landscaping around mature trees

    White Sands

    White Sands surrounded a mature tree in front of this Southern California Spanish-style bungalow with low-maintenance succulents that add color and warmth that enhances its curb appeal.

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  • 03 of 15

    Build a Boxwood Labyrinth

    landscaping around trees

    Design by Zeterre Landscape Architecture / Photo by Stephen Suzman

    A brilliant lime green Japanese maple tree, Koto No Ito, is surrounded by a labyrinth of boxwood hedges, heuchera, and Korean no-mow grass. Designed by Zeterre Landscape Architecture, this garden in Oakland, California, was created over a 15-year time period. The goal: to create five distinct gardens within the property that are tied by a common taste and materials that complement the home's architecture. The low wall was constructed with New Haveli limestone in aqua from Rhodes Architectural Stone.

    Japanese maple trees are valued for their small-to-medium size, making them ideal for raised beds, large containers, and patios. Their leaves provide year-round interest and can be found in assorted colors, like orange, scarlet, yellow, and bright green.

    Heucheras (coral bells) are compact perennials with roundish leaves that have scalloped edges. Grown for their colorful foliage, Heucheras are striking in rock gardens, in front of shrubs, as masses in borders, and in containers. Colors include light and medium green, deep red, orange, and variegated varieties.

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  • 04 of 15

    Build a Deck Around It

    landscaping around trees
    Tim Davies Landscaping

    What do you do with a mature tree in the backyard with wide-spreading limbs? Instead of leaving the area below the tree bare, Tim Davies Landscaping built a deck around it. That gives the homeowners of this property in Floreat, Australia more space to enjoy their yard and showcases the architectural branches of the tree. 


    Building a patio or deck around a tree can be beneficial, according to Austin Tree Experts. A deck will help reduce soil compaction caused by foot traffic around the roots that can stress the tree. Plus, small gaps between planks allow water and oxygen to easily access the tree soil and roots, and leaves will still be able to slip through the board cracks to recycle nutrients back into the soil.

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  • 05 of 15

    Fill In With Hostas and Firecracker Plants

    landscaping around trees

    Flo's Gardens

    In a corner of a cut-stone paved yard in Brooklyn, a mature plum tree provides shade and seasonal color. Flo's Gardens designed a low stacked stone raised bed contains the tree, which is underplanted with shade-tolerant hostas and firecracker plant St. Elmo's Fire.

    Deciduous flowering plum trees produce stunning floral displays in winter or spring. Some also produce fall color, like deep, smoky purples.

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  • 06 of 15

    Carpet the Ground With Nettle

    landscaping around trees
    Donna Lynn Landscape Design

    A sandstone cobble border makes a planer for these coast live oaks at a home near Santa Barbara, California. Created by Donna Lynn Landscape Design, the space was underplanted with silvery spotted dead nettle (Lamium maculatum) and edged with spreading bugleweed (Ajuga reptans).

    Despite the name, dead nettles are very much alive. Natives of Europe and Western Asia, these vigorous growers have tooth-edged leaves and produce flower clusters in white, pink, or yellow.

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  • 07 of 15

    Install a Cactus Garden

    landscaping around trees

    Succulent Designs LA / Photo by Michael Romero

    A heat-loving South African tree aloe (Aloe bainesii) is surrounded by large stones, rocks, and gravel, along with golden barrel cactus in this garden designed by Succulent Designs LA. Aloes and other succulents create a natural, beautiful setting. This multi-branched tree has a massive trunk and performs well in Mediterranean gardens. While it's a fast grower and is drought tolerant, the tree aloe likes water and good-draining soil, along with compost.

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  • 08 of 15

    Surround It With an English Garden

    landscaping around trees

    Lady Landscape

    Lady Landscape planted a jumble of plants around a small tree in this generously planted front garden that gives off an effortless English country vibe.

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  • 09 of 15

    Blanket the Ground With No-Mow Ferns

    landscaping around trees

    EPT Design / Photo by Jack Coyier

    silk floss tree (Chorisia speciosa) is underplanted with foxtail ferns and a no-mow, grasslike, ground cover. Created by EPT Design, a low concrete bench acts as a retaining wall for this tree. Its rectangular shape is repeated in the long pavers that stretch on a sea of river rocks. Plants behind the ferns are tropical cannas; to the right are drought-tolerant Agave attenuata.

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  • 10 of 15

    Surround Olive Trees With Redwood Mulch

    landscaping around trees

    Design by Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture / Photo by Carson Joyce Douglas

    Olive trees at a California vineyard home are underplanted with sesleria 'Greenlee', olea 'Little Ollie', Westringia fruticosa 'Smokey', and artemisia 'David's Choice'. Designed by Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture, this driveway area was mulched with a native redwood. Santa Barbara sandstone boulders add textural interest.

    The olive trees, Olea europaea, are Mediterranean natives that grow well in California and parts of southern Arizona. They were introduced to mission gardens hundreds of years ago and prized for the oil that the fruit produces. These slow growers are most attractive when grown in deep, rich soil. If bothered by the sometimes-messy fruit crop, olive trees can be thinned each year, which also displays their striking branch patterns.

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  • 11 of 15

    Add Volume With Native Grasses

    landscaping around trees
    Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture

    Rustic Corten steel planter edging holds a raised bed that includes this central multi-trunk olive tree along with assorted local stones and rocks. Other plants include carex and Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy'. along with native grasses. Designed by Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture, the property is in Alpine, California, inland to San Diego.

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  • 12 of 15

    Use Shade-Loving Plants

    landscaping around mature trees

    Design by Hively Landscapes / Photo by James Theisen

    The beds of this formal, tree-lined path are livened up with lime green hostas and white-blooming shrubs. Hively Landscapes of Dover, Pennsylvania, added shade-lovers like hostas and rhododendrons that always do well under the canopies of trees, especially if they are pruned and maintained.

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  • 13 of 15

    Build a Deck Around the Trunk

    landscaping around trees

    Ohashi Design Studio / Photo by J. Michael Tucker

    Building a deck to incorporate two serpentine oak trees gave this house near Oakland, California, more privacy. Instead of removing the oaks, ODS Architecture created a seamless indoor/outdoor experience and added more living space.  

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  • 14 of 15

    Green a Rooftop Terrace

    landscaping around trees on a roof terrace

    John Davies Landscape

    A small outdoor roof terrace in Central London's new section of Swiss Cottage was given a contemporary look by John Davies Landscape. Inspired by New York's High Line, Davies envisioned the spaces as gardens in the sky that provide private and luxurious spaces for relaxation. Trees are planted in basalt terraces and include Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) and Osmanthus burkwoodii. The Osmanthus is pruned and trained into an umbrella form for a neat, manicured look.

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  • 15 of 15

    Play With Height and Color

    tree surrounded by perenials
    Lisa Hallett Taylor

    A whimsical cottage garden in Orange, California, includes lots of details in its landscape design. Every free space of dirt is used for planting carefully chosen perennials, vines, and bulbs, along with garden statuary and ornaments. Soil is amended and rich for the variety of specimens in each bed.