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Tree Ring Project


This spring, consider putting a tree ring in at your home. When you are installing a tree ring there are a few steps to take along the way to ensure that your tree ring looks perfect.  This will be a helpful guide to doing it yourself.

List of materials

  1.       Shovel                                                
  2.       Tamper
  3.       Lime stone screening
  4.       Bricks
  5.       Top soil
  6.       String and marking paint
  7.       Shade tolerant plants/ Mulch


You can download the PDF version of this project here.  Project Guide



Prep work


The first step in achieving a proper tree ring is to measure the distance you want to fill in around your tree.  You can do this by taking a loose piece of string and tying it around the bottom portion of the trunk.  You will want to go 3-6 ft away from the tree.  Make sure the string is loose so you can circle the tree with your marking paint in order to achieve a perfect circle.


After you have your area marked off, you will need your shovel to start removing either dirt or grass.  When you go to line the bricks up make sure you check the distance between the back of the block and the tree for proper distance before you start digging.  You will want to dig 3-4in down into the ground. Once you get your outer perimeter dug out make sure to keep the edges of the grass line nice and straight for a better look!!


Before you put your blocks into the area you dug out, you will need to apply some leveling sand to help keep the bricks flat.  Lime stone screening will work just as well since it’s for leveling purposes.  You will want to pour about half an inch of sand down and tamper it down.  The tamper will help give the area the flatness it needs.


Laying the blocks


When you’re ready to start the foundation you may need a rubber mallet to help put the final bricks in place.  Working from left to right is the easiest way to install these.  Once you get the first row down, take a level and lay it across the base level of bricks to ensure they are level.  You may have to re-tamp the area until its level.

When you go to start stacking your next couple layers make sure to stagger the bricks to give it more detail to blocks.  Try to avoid having all the seams line up vertical. The back of the stones will keep them in align and from falling off the back end.



Plant and Fill


Once you have all your blocks in place it’s time to fill the big empty space around your tree.  Mixing a combination of top soil and premium garden soils is the best way to go if you want to plant flowers under the tree.  Depending on how much sun the bottom of the tree gets will determine what types of plants you can use.  If you just want to fill it in and cover it with mulch that works as well.  Just fill the inside with topsoil and cover with at least 2in of your favorite mulch!!



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Posted 2012-02-21T21:41:48+0000  by FlyingHDsod FlyingHDsod

Filling the tree ring with mulch instead of top soil or compost is just as bad. Also no mulch/soil should be touching the bark of the tree. Trees should always have their root flares showing. Covering them with soil will cause the bark to rot from the dampness and lack of air exchange. Digging in the area around the tree as you suggest will also damage the trees important surface roots. In general this whole project is bad for the existing tree. Perhaps you should log into MSU Extensions educational site or SOCWA's site and review proper planting techniques. As an Oakland County Master Gardener, SOCWA volunteer, Conservation Steward, and professional gardener. I would suggest removing this project and using your retaining wall in gardens that don't involve changing the grade around trees.

Posted 2012-03-10T00:03:51+0000  by ldsteiner
We did this along time ago. After a few years the tree roots will start to come out of the ground outside of the ring. The tree did not die, but try to mow the lawn with roots sticking out of the ground. Not a good idea.
Posted 2012-03-10T02:18:48+0000  by Sobeit

First: Never do a video when there is strong wind.  The wind rushing around the microphone is very annoying and made part of the conversation muffled.  Second:  This really is a bad choice for a project.  the amount of mulch or soil you have recommended will kill the tree and if the tree you have next to the house in the video dies and falls, it will take out part of the house.  Please remove this project or I am afraid you will have lawsuits over dead trees and damaged houses and cars from the falling dead trees. 


I love to watch the videos and look at the projects on the Home Depot site.  They are usually very well thought out and presented.  This one is not and should be removed!

Posted 2012-03-10T03:31:23+0000  by tarheelgardens

We also have 2 tree rings around mature oaks and have had them for years. Our rings are 3 blocks high and filled with dirt.

Never had a problem yet.

Posted 2012-03-10T04:43:18+0000  by minnegirl

How do you figure out how many retaining wall bricks to buy in order to build the tree ring? I have a pear tree about 5 inches across at the base of the trunk and a crepe myrtle which is only about an inch across base of the trunk...both seem to grow slow.

Posted 2012-03-10T06:15:02+0000  by lollipopp58
No you are not causing the roots to come to the surface by planting in pots. The tree was not properly planted in the 1st place: the area is much too small for the tree, the only way the tree can survive is by growing surface roots!
Planting in good sized pots is an excellent way to have some color
Posted 2012-03-12T12:43:30+0000  by rosyg

Very poor idea for the tree. What do you expect from home depot tho: they are trying to sell stuff instead of teaching the public good horticultural practices.

Posted 2012-03-12T12:47:24+0000  by rosyg

The project card calls for your topsoil and mulch to be inches from the tree. This is to keep the bark from decaying as well as keep the area where the bark is the thinnest free of any diseases that may want to live in your soil. Putting flowers or mulch around the tree is a decorative addition to the yard, but you want to make sure that you don’t get too thick so your tree can still get the oxygen it needs. 




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Posted 2012-03-12T21:30:24+0000  by HomeDepotRachel

Others have mentioned killing the tree by adding soil and cutting off its oxygen. True -- add limestone and you'll poison the tree besides. This project idea is BAD all around. Get some experts to check these things before unknowing people try them out and have a disaster! Shame on you!

Posted 2012-03-14T03:41:55+0000  by DI_Urself

Saw this project in Home Depot's e-mail blast....isn't this detrimental to the tree?  I heard a little bit of compost or mulch is good for the tree but wouldn't a 6 inch ring of soil and plants suffocate the tree?

Posted 2012-03-14T20:07:54+0000  by duh-rel
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