When considering a garden under a tree, it is important to keep a few rules in mind. Otherwise, your garden may not flourish and you may damage the tree. So what plants or flowers grow well under a tree? Read on to learn more about growing gardens under trees. The Basics of Gardening Under Trees Below are some of the basic guidelines to keep in mind when planting under trees. Cut off lower branches. Trimming away some of the lower branches gives you more room for planting and allows light to enter under the tree. Even if the plants you want to use are shade tolerant, they also need some light to survive. Do not build a raised bed. Most gardeners make the mistake of building a raised bed around the base of the tree in an attempt to create better soil for the flowers. Unfortunately, when they do this, they can damage or even kill the tree. Most trees have surface roots that require oxygen to survive. When mulch, soil, and compost are piled thick around a tree, it suffocates the roots and doesn’t allow oxygen to get to them. This can also cause the tree’s roots and lower trunk to rot. Although you will have a nice flower bed, in a few years the tree will be almost dead. Plant in holes. When planting under trees, give each plant its own hole. Carefully dug holes avoid damage to the tree’s shallow root system. Each hole can be filled with composted organic material to benefit the plant. A thin layer of compost, no more than 3 inches (8 cm), can then be spread around the base of the tree and seedlings. Do not plant large plants. Large and scattered plants can easily take over a garden under the tree. Tall plants will grow too tall for the area and start trying to grow through the lower branches of the tree while large plants also block sunlight and views of other smaller plants in the garden. Stick to small, low-growing plants for best results.