I agree with Denden that this is probably too shady an area. Root competition, especially from a large tree, can also mean that the new plants don’t get much nutrients or moisture and cannot compete successfully. However, I’m not big on adding soil on top of tree roots, as trees resent that. An inch, OK, but not a lot. Here’s a short article from the University of Virginia on the physiology of roots (read the last paragraph especially). It explains the reason behind what I am suggesting. http://tinyurl.com/63rhzv
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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.