have you tested the soil in the area? are you planting "sun-lovers" in shade or "shade -lovers" in sun? your post seems to imply you think that maybe your plantings are not growing b/c of the oak tree roots. if that’s the case, try a raised bed. cover the planting area w/ 8-10 layers of newspaper (to keep weeds from growing) & lay down 6 to 8 inches of good top soil. good luck & happy growing! denden8148 zone 5 hudson valley
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.