Most people will agree that growing your own food is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things about gardening.

And all you really need to have your own edible garden is a little outdoor space, seeds, water, and a small bit of time and effort.

It doesn’t take a lot of space to keep a little vegetable patch, so you definitely have options, even with a small yard.

If you’re a little tight on space and happen to have a few trees dotted around your yard, you might be wondering whether or not it’s a good idea to plant vegetables close to trees.

Is Growing Vegetables Near Trees a Good Idea?

It is usually not a good idea to plant most vegetables too close to trees for two main reasons. First, the tree’s canopy might limit the amount of sun your vegetables receive. And second, the tree roots will take much of the surrounding soil’s nutrients and water and may leave your vegetables with less than they need to thrive.

Some vegetables are exceptions and can benefit from being near or under trees, so depending upon what vegetables you want to plant, you might be able to pull it off.

For some crops, a little shade can actually help them grow better.

When you provide shade for vegetables that don’t like too much sun, you won’t need to water them as often.

And some veggie crops, such as salad, can struggle in the heat, so when you plant them in the shade of a tree they will actually grow lusher.

But this cannot be said for most vegetables.

Can Shade From Trees Stop My Vegetables Getting Enough Sun?

A family harvesting vegetables

Some plants need full sun, meaning they should get direct sunlight for at least six hours each day.

Others grow best when they are in partial shade or partial sun.

And still, other plants thrive in full shade, doing best when they get no direct sunlight but only indirect light.

Most vegetables do not do well with too much shade, which is why it’s not a great idea to plant your vegetables near trees that might provide full shade.

All vegetables need some light to grow, but these specific vegetables and fruits below prefer full sun:

  • Cucumbers.
  • Cantaloupe.
  • Squash.
  • Peppers.
  • Corn.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Watermelon.
  • Eggplant.

While these plants might grow and even produce in partial or full shade, they won’t perform as well under the shade of a tree as they would in full sun.

  • Broccoli.
  • Brussel sprouts.
  • Beets.
  • Carrots.
  • Radishes.
  • Cabbage.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Kale.

The vegetables on the above list can manage with filtered or dappled sunlight.

If you’re a little tight on space and need to plant vegetables near trees, the ones mentioned above are known to do well in partial or full shade.

Trees aren’t the only things in your yard that will influence how much direct sunlight your plants get.

Your house, shed, or garage might also block the sun for much of the day, so be mindful of that too when plotting out your vegetable patch.

Related Article: Is Red Clay Soil Good For Vegetables?

Tree Roots Can Steel Water And Nutrients From Your Vegetables

While the tree’s canopy can undoubtedly be a problem by causing the vegetables to get less sunlight than they need, that’s not the only reason it’s a good idea to give your trees some space when planting veggies.

Most agree that 10 feet is the minimum distance you’ll need to keep between your vegetables and your trees, but even further apart would be better.

This is because your vegetables will be competing against your trees for the nutrients and water in the soil.

The trees are not only bigger but since they were there first, they will always win that battle.

Their root systems are firmly established, and your seedlings will have to be content with the leftover water and nutrients, which won’t always be enough for them to thrive.

Many experts recommend leaving a minimum of ten feet between any large tree and your vegetable garden.

If your yard doesn’t allow that, focus on the shade-tolerant plants and plan to water and fertilize them as needed.

How much Space Should I Leave Between Trees And My Vegetables?

The consensus among expert gardeners is that it’s best to leave plenty of space between your vegetable garden and trees.

A minimum of ten feet is a good starting point.

If you have space to plant your vegetables even further from your trees, do it.

They’ll have a much better chance of thriving there, and you’ll be more satisfied with your garden’s yield.

If your yard is too small for that kind of separation or has too many trees to find a suitable plot several feet away, choose plants that prefer shade, and keep a close watch on your vegetables.

Try A Raised Vegetable Bed

Raised-bed vegetable gardening is a method in which the soil is enclosed in wooden or rock containment units that are three or four feet wide and a variety of lengths.

When you grow vegetables in raised beds, the soil is raised up above the surrounding soil so your veggies don’t have to compete against the root systems of any other plants or trees.

While this may not do a lot to solve the problem of too much shade from trees, this technique allows your vegetables to live in soil where they are not competing with other more dominant root systems.

Veggies are ordinarily fast growers, so if they are slow or the leaves start to look limp and yellow, then you may have a problem with your vegetables growing too close to trees.

First, give them some more water and try to fertilize and add more nutrients to the soil.

If that doesn’t work, you may need to move the vegetables to another location.