Landscaping Around a Tree

When we moved into our little house, the yard was void. I don’t mean void of any cool landscaping details, I mean VOID of a yard! Yes, there were some dead shrubbery and such and luckily 2 great old trees somehow managed to survive. The grass however, didn’t. Therefore, we went to work in that first year. We completely re-sodded the entire yard ourselves, planted shrubs, elephant ears, (our favs!) added monkey grass down the sidewalk, put in crape myrtle trees and a red oak. We found a bargain on Lueders Stone (similar to Austin Stone) landscaping stones at a local store and went hog-wild in placing the stone in every place possible in our yard. We created flower beds, lined the sidewalk, stacked, un-stacked and stacked stone again, literally everywhere. We stepped back and thought we had really done something. Actually, we loved it! Over-kill for some, but just the right cohesive look we wanted. Then, about 5 years later we realized there was a neglected little corner of the yard. Yes, an area which had not been subjected to the Lueders Stone Landscaping Monsters that we had became. This must be fixed! And so, we went to work adding a flower bed around the forgotten tree.

Here is how it went down. Our supplies consisted of a few shovels (thank you estate sales!), large nails (I don’t know what you are suppose to use these for or why we even own them, but they are huge!), string, a hammer, a level, a tape measure, a tarp, gloves and of course knee pads.

Using a tape measure we measured 2 feet from the base of the trunk and placed a stake. Took a step back and decided that it needed to be further, and eventually decided on 2.5 feet. Again, measuring from the base of the trunk 2.5 feet out, we went around the tree, placing stakes.

Just to give us a visual of what the circle would look like, using string, we strung it around the outside of the staking nails. This allowed us to make sure this circle would be the right diameter for the flower bed.

Satisfied with our “grand” string circle, we went to remove the grass. It just so happens, that we needed grass sod for a project in our back yard, so I wanted the grass removed in squares so it could be reused, not just simply dug out and tossed out. Using the sharpshooter shovel and the string as a guideline, Shane cut into the ground all the way around the circle. This made for an easier entry point for the next step.

Next step is lifting the grass out. Again with the shovel, using the entry points created above, Shane slide the shovel between the dirt and the grass and lifted it out in squares. Little at a time, he went around the entire circle, until it was cleaned out.


We always use a tarp when we are landscaping. It is just so handy and makes clean up a breeze, especially when digging dirt or hauling away weeds or shrubbery. It was a perfect place for the grass squares until we were finished with the project.

Now comes the stacking, unshackling and re-stacking part as mentioned above. Using the stone, we placed them at the edge of our circle, removing stones, replacing stones, until we got it just right. Using a level, we added or took out a little dirt beneath the stones until we had the first layer of stones in place.

After stacking the second layer, we filled in the stone circle with dirt. We are lucky to have an organic dirt provider nearby. A great business that sells organic dirt and compost by the scoop. We love it for all of our flower beds and plantings.

Several years ago, Shane brought home a huge planter of succulent from an estate sale. I have no idea the name of the variety, but it is awesome. We have planted it everywhere. It is so easy to propagate by taking cuttings from the mama plant and just sticking them in the dirt. (I know that explanation is making a horticulturist roll their eyes, but hey….it works for us!)

A little water everyday and a month later it looks awesome! It amazes me how well it grows and it definitely finished off our front yard landscaping.

And the extra grass squares we dug up? Yep, they were easily dragged to the back yard thanks to the handy tarp.