Removing a 20+ yo ornamental cherry tree- how soon can I plant where it was?

Asked February 23, 2020, 5:25 PM EST

We have a 20+ yo ornamental cherry tree in our south facing front yard. It only looks good 2 weeks out of the year and is getting increasing shade from a nearby oak tree. If we remove it, how soon could we plant in the area it was? We’d like to put a mixed hedge perennial bed.

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

Hello. If you would like to plant in the same area where the tree is now, you will have to have the stump removed (ground down to 3 feet at least). This process typically leaves a lot of wood chips behind. As the chips break down, this changes the soil chemistry (soil organisms take up nitrogen), and the chips and remaining tree roots will decay and sink down into the soil over time. Because of this, you could instead plant into the soil adjacent to where the trunk is located now -- about three feet away from the old stump is recommended.

If you want to plant in the exact same location of the old trunk, then you should account for some soil sinking over time (decomposition of the remaining roots, wood chips) as well as nitrogen loss. You could place soil over the stump area and plant something temporary (for example shallow-rooted annual flowers, grass) and wait a year or two until the soil stabilizes and then plant in your woody shrub(s) for your hedge. I recommend doing a soil test prior to planting your new shrubs, https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing.

Christa