Gardening Ideas for Under a Spruce Tree


If you have a spruce tree, liven up the space underneath with a garden. Because this area mostly receives little direct sunlight, creating a garden that will look nice and thrive is a challenge. Fortunately, gardening in the shade is easy with good plant selection and a couple techniques to help them thrive.

Plant Selection

  • Choose plants that grow well in the shade. You can select either annuals or perennials. Annuals will need replacing every year, but you’ll have more plant varieties from which to choose, and they usually bloom longer than perennials. Perennials will create an everlasting garden under your spruce tree, but they must be rated hardy in your plant hardiness zone. Good plants to grow under spruce trees are hostas, impatiens, Canadian wild ginger and vincas, to name a few.


  • Spruce trees have flat roots that grow near the ground’s surface. Any plants planted in this area must compete with these roots for water and nutrients. By adding mulch, water will evaporate less and the soil will stay moister longer for the plants and tree to use. Add about 2 to 3 inches of mulch, but not directly around the trunk, which can cause the fungus and disease to form and spread. Mulch will also prevent weeds from growing into your garden.

Raised Garden Bed

  • Create a raised garden bed around your spruce tree so plants will have their own soil and moisture and will not have to compete as much for water and nutrients. Add an extra 12 inches of top soil, but do not lay it directly around the truck, according to University of Tennessee Extension. Simply, taper the soil down toward the trunk beginning about 12 inches away. Add wood sides on the outside perimeter around the raised garden or taper it back down to ground level.

Container Garden

  • A simple solution for a garden bed is to plant in containers. Choose containers of varying colors, heights and texture. Add a bench or garden chair under the tree for a shady garden area where you can rest and relax. You can also add a layer of rocks under the containers and around your tree to add more interest to the garden.

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  • Photo Credit pine bark mulch image by robert mobley from
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