Plants that grow next to Pine Tree in sunny/part shade area

Calgary, Canada


I have done a vegetable garden this year for the first time in slightly raised beds. The plants got successively smaller the closer they got to my next door neighbor's pine tree even though I had amended the soil this year. Even though our yards have a fence in between, some needles make their way onto my side. They got the same amount of sun and I couldn't figure out what was going on, and then I realized it was probably years of this pine being there.

I am going to be moving perennials over to the bed this fall but will continue mixing in vegetables in with them next year. I also have a dog. What plants/vegetables will do well next to this pine tree and are not poisonous to dogs?

I was thinking of doing carrots, potatoes and strawberries for my vegetables/fruit. For perennials, all I can think of are lilies/ day-lilies. I had swiss chard and peas closest to them and they didn't grow much at all. Tomatoes were also there, a bit farther (5 ft away), but half the size of other tomatoes elsewhere in my garden.

Exposure to sun at peak season is full for at least 6 hours a day and shade for the rest. Depends on time of year though, I have a shed that blocks the sun when the sun is too low.

What do you guys think. Any other ideas?

Edmonton, AB(Zone 3a)

I have seen Bergina do well under pines but I do know they watered to get it going. My Mom was successful with lamium and Bruneria but again she watered to get them established.
I'm sure others will have more ideas than these for you. I have never been lucky with veggies under/near pines.


Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)


I don't think it's the needles that are the main problem....The tree roots are shallow & really suck up the moisture and nutrients. If the branches are hanging over your side , they also will prevent the moisture since the branches can be quite dense.

Planting root veggies will be a big task with the tree root system. A raised bed will be the best but expect the tree roots to come up too. And you will need to water a lot.

Calgary, Canada

Roses grow next to pines in my yard.

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

I have some large pine trees in my yard.The ground was and is carpeted with pine needles.I planted shade plants and put the yellow foliage from the bleeding heart bed behind the larger plants.To hide it.Anyway to make a long story short ,Mother nature tool over.Some Ajuga hitch hiked from my previous garden and the birds planted Lily of the Valley.The list goes on .Here is the resulting garden.

Thumbnail by agedgardener
Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

This picture is earlier in the summer More migrants.

Thumbnail by agedgardener
Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I agree with Joanne. It is not the needles that are the problem under pines/spruce etc it is the shade and the roots. It looks like agedgardeners pine has been 'limbed up' so there would not be so much shade there- has your neighbors been trimmed that way too since you seem to have lots of sun?

Calgary, Canada

Thanks everyone!

I do have a rose in the front that I want to move to the back. And I know those aren't poisonous to dogs.

My neighbors tree's branches do come over the 6 foot fence a little, but don't really block the sun. The shallow root system does make sense. Although, I didn't come across any roots at all digging to about 8 inches deep. I mixed in ammendments (peat moss, coarse sand, compost since the soil is originally clay. This was the same ammendments I did farther away from the tree with great success) into that 8 inches, then built up the soil another 4 inches. So that's at least 12 inches with no pine roots. And aren't the roots generally supposed to extend to the width of the tree? Most of the vegetables were a few feet from this width. Do you guys think it's still the roots in that case? How is it possible that it be the pine roots? Most of my vegetables don't even grow deeper than that. I can probably build up the soil another 6-8 inches, but I don't want to build too high since I don't want the soil against the fence to rot the fence posts.

What do you guys think?

I'll post a picture in my next post to show you guys what I'm dealing with.

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

I haven't tried to grow vegetables under the Pines.There is too much shade.The plants I grow successfully are shade loving plants.Peonies didn't do well.I think that the pine must have deep roots.We've never found root to be a problem.There is mored shade than you think in that area.It is shaded by the house and a large Maple.My yard is surrounded by very large trees.JOY

Thumbnail by agedgardener
Port Moody, BC(Zone 8a)

HI there,

I have many plants growing under a hemlock tree: Actea, Hardy Geranium, Leucothoe, Daylily, but I have pots closest to the trunk where the soil is a mass of roots. The beds you see in this photo (2009) were raised about 10 inches and I've noticed the tree roots are slowly coming to the surface in some places. I choose plants that don't mind a little drought, but will be raising the bed ht again soon. I have one Peony added late 2009 which is a bit further away and seems to be doing okay. The tree is definitely competing with the plants for moisture, but it rains a lot here, so I think that compensates.

I'll add a photo of the pot arrangement below the hemlock.

Another suggestion - create a low retaining wall near your fence as a moisture barrier.


Thumbnail by a5footsea
Port Moody, BC(Zone 8a)

second photo - pots under the hemlock tree...

sometimes I will add a couple more if I want to add more annuals

Thumbnail by a5footsea
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I was about to create a raised bed right on top of big gnarly pine roots over heavy clay. This would be be right next to, and partially wrap aroun d the trunk. (I know not to pile dirt up on the existing bark, I would build a "doughnut-hole-like" inner wall to keep the bed soil away from the thrunk.

I was wondering if the feeding roots would turn around and come back up into the raised bed.

From what i read above, the answer sounds like "yes pine does that". But please, tell me I'm wrong!

Suppose I somewhat level off the existing ground level with poor soil, and cover that with plastic. Will that prevent pine tree roots from rising up and starngling my plants?

Usually for this kind of weed barrier I use cut-open plastic bags that compost or soil came in. Are pine tree roots likely to sneak through the overlap, or is that something only the dreaded maple will do?

Do I need thicker plastic? Plywood? Corrugated fiberglass? Fibreglass propped up on pressure-treated 2x4s to create an air gap to keep roots out, but for moss and rodents to live in?

I would have been happy for excess water and minerals to drain out of the bed and go to the poor tree, which only has rocks and heavy clay to grow in. Big old pine. I would have appreciated the improved drainage! Otherwise I will have to slope the floor the plastic siots on, and cut a trench so that water drains out of the bed and yet away from the shed and house.

Yes, it will be a partially shady spot, but this yard is tiny and shady almost everywhere. There are already other raised beds or bushes where the sun is better. .

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