This year I have taken over responsibility for the tree bed in front of our West Village apartment building, but I am not entirely sure what to do about the soil around the tree.
For background, the tree is fairly young — planted about 3 or 4 years ago — and our building installed a short fence around the bed to protect it (the previous young tree was destroyed by car doors). They also added a few boards around the edge and raised the soil about 6 inches. The city doesn’t really like when the soil is not flush with the sidewalk, but I think the setup would be pretty hard to remove and the tree seems to have adapted to the higher soil level. The problem is that I think they filled the area with potting mix rather than regular soil. I am afraid to remove it, because there is also a relatively young false hydrangea vine planted there too.
Any recommendations about how to improve this soil before I add some new plants?
Seems like you will have to sort of “pocket plant” whatever else you add, scooping out little pockets of the offending faux soil and layering back in the desired additional plants with perhaps some bagged compost instead?
Hard to renovate soil once things are planted as you say, so I just try to topdress, as it is called, with an inch of compost each year, and let that break down naturally into the underlying soil without uprooting things.