Need advise for replanting after huge cotton wood trees taken down last week.

Asked June 22, 2016, 1:18 AM EDT

In Bemidji city limits I just had three large cotton woods taken down. Need advise on what best options I might have for filling in the open area with a mess of saw dust under some tall spruce trees. Fruit trees, Blueberries, raspberries? Something I can annually harvest?

Beltrami County Minnesota

1 Response

Thank you for the question. I'm going to assume you have a large circular patch of wood chips because the stump was ground out. Over a period of 2-3 years there will be changes in the ground where the stump was ground out because the tree roots that the grinder couldn't reach will decompose, causing the soil to settle and you may see mushrooms sprouting because of this decomposition. This is all normal and the mushrooms are temporary. The other factor to consider is that as the microbes break down the wTood chips, they bind up nitrogen in the soil which temporarily leaves the soil deficient in this nutrient. Once the decomposition is complete, the nitrogen is released back into the soil.

What this means for you is that it may be a bit tricky to successfully grow much in this area for awhile. I'm not aware of any plant that doesn't need proper nutrients to grow well, so base plant choices on other factors like sun exposure, watering needs, etc. You can try to tip the scales in your favor by removing as many wood chips as possible from the planting area and adding compost and good quality topsoil along with fertilizer applied as directed by a soil test to compensate for the reduced availability of nitrogen. Realize that you will have to keep adding these things for several years as the ground sinks in this area.

Another idea is to wait for several years before planting in this area and instead make a flower planter arrangement over the area with a bird bath or other temporary "fix". Any fruit tree or shrub you plant will need full sun. Often this is not the case under large trees.

Thank you for contacting Extension.