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Looking for feedback regarding the apron of concrete that surrounds my very mature (and very "value-added") Cal pepper tree. I suppose this situation applies to any tree, but I am increasingly concerned about the health of my tree with regards to the ground cover. I should probably invest in an hour of a qualified arborist, but thought I would poll this crew to see what they had to say first. The tree is probably 30+ years and is a favorite in the yard. I live in the Arizona desert (I know I know - inappropriate vegetation choice, but it was here before me). The only irrigation it receives is from emitters inside the planter at its base (not ideal, but probably been that way for at least 20 years) and emitters placed throughout the courtyard in other beds (they are at the dripline, but a large swath of concrete lies between tree trunk and beds). The beds are positioned so that only about 25% of the dripline coincides with them - the other 75% is still covered by concrete. Make sense? Attached photo might help.
I know the easy answer is to tear out concrete and replace with weathered granite, but we're talking $$$ into a home that has suffered the wrath of the realestate market like you can't imagine. I will do whatever is necessary for the trees' health, but if someone knowledgeable had something to say that could put my mind at ease without making a major financial investment I would be really happy.
Thanks for any input you might have - DO