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Stump trouble

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Hi guys, I have eventually cleared the area at the back of my garden for a veggie patch. It used to have huge leylandii growing but had them taken down and stumps ground out. The woodchip left behind has broken down over the last couple of years and I think the ground is ok. Digging it over I have found two huge (2 foot across) stumps that were left (about 6 inches underground) Can i just go ahead and hope plants roots will spread out rather than down or should I just give up and put a compost heap over them instead? Anyone know of any plants that will either thrive or help to break down the stumps?




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Hi Kate


I have plenty of plants growing near but not on the stumps in my garden. That's because they have been cut above the ground though. However, I'm sure I read somewhere that as long as soil is deep enough, plants should be ok. Possibly 6 inches might be a bit shallow in the hotter months? Also, it was possibly recommended that the stump grindings are dug out & some decent soil mixed in to give better chance of growth.


Just found this...


The Russian Junipers (Juniperus semiglobosa), and in reality all the junipers (Siberian, Common, Utah, Virginia, Western, etc.) grow best in full sun.   These hearty plants grow just about everywhere, happily thriving in all sorts of adverse conditions.  You may notice that they will fill out and not look so "leggy", now that they are no longer in heavy shade.  Maybe that’s why they are used so profusely.  They come in all sorts of shapes & sizes.


Just about anything will grow NEAR the ground-out stump.  Notice I said near, as there are very few plants that can grow outside of a soil matrix.  You'll have to take out some chips, and add some dirt to get anything to thrive right on top of an old stump, and in full sun (shade-loving forest dwellers that love rotting trees, like moss, ferns, toadstools, etc. would get barbequed in full sun!)  


If you can find a pocket of soil in amongst the old roots, then try your luck with more Juniper (many varieties to try in your zone), Barberry, Current, Roses...or perhaps another tree like an Ash, Maple, and Oak.  If you want something smaller, whose roots won't go much deeper than 12", try a groundcover like Virginia Creeper, Ivy, ground rose, or Spurge.


There is probably abundance of wood chips and left-over roots still in the ground, as these break down over the next couple of years, they will "steal" nitrogen from the soil around them.  Therefore, whatever you plant there will need extra fertilization.  


Good luck

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