Planting new trees among old trees

Asked March 17, 2013, 5:16 PM EDT

Dear Expert:

We have three cottonwoods on the west side of our house. Our arborist says that they have four years to live at most. We would like to start three young trees between them but are concerned with the extent of the root system currently there. We are unsure whether it will work to plant new trees in between the living, old tree roots of the cottonwoods. The side yard is narrow so there really isn't anywhere where there are no cottonwood roots. Are there some trees that would fare better under those conditions? We want to plant shade trees.

Boulder County Colorado

1 Response

We are happy you have an arborist; he/she must know the age of the trees, and therefore the root extent in your narrow yard. We recommend our website to you, as you decide which style, color, size, growing rate of the trees you would like: www.ext.colostate.edu and use the search engine to look at these articles: 7.419, 7.421, and "treereclist.pdf" (which is the Front Range Tree Recommended List. We do not think that planting now before the removal of the cottonwoods is recommended, as your arborist might recommend root removal as well, before planting the new young trees - give them their best start! Good Luck in your decisions, and thank you for your question! CMG desk