Limber Slab Planting / French Drain

I love the forum layout! Here’s my first post. Please move it if this is the wrong category for this post.

Here’s a slab planting of a Limber pine I styled. The main purpose of this post is to share my solution to drainage. Since tonight’s live stream is on “slab planting” I figured I’d give this post a go.

Instead of drilling holes in the approximately 2" granite I chose areas on the slab I thought would be most likely to drain off easily. I cut bamboo in half to run beneath the muck walls in those locations and piled large size pumice inside to act like a French drain. Moss was place to where it hid the ends of the bamboo. – It’s been about a year now and water still drains freely out of the drains. Fingers crossed it keeps working! lol

I’d love to hear thoughts on my approach. :slight_smile:






Outstanding example. I have one question about composition though. The deadwood to the right seems to frame an oval negative space ( a visual distraction?). I have a few trees with this same condition and one is even more circular causing a sure focal point that takes away from the design.
My question is whether you feel this does cause distraction or do you have other thoughts?

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Thanks Leonard!

You are definitely not the first person to question the dead trunk… lol. A lot of people find it distracting.

To me though, it’s an integral part of the tree and it’s story. It’s also a very old piece of deadwood. The tree has been weathered and beaten from the right side for a very long time; that trunk was killed off but still stands, taking some of the hits for the main tree and very clearly adding to the story of the trees survival. Visually I feel that it plays well with the flow of the tree too.

That’s just me. Maybe someday someone will remove it. I’m definitely curious to hear others thoughts as well. :slight_smile:


I would keep the smaller trunk but mabe shortening it to about an inch about the first nub of a branch on the right. Try the towl trick and try covering it to different lenghts and see if it improves the visual composition. Covering it doesn’t hurt anything. :thinking:

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any thoughts on removing bark from the deadwood? I believe that the story of struggle is strong with the trunk that did not survive. Another positive comment: love the lichen covered slab and stone!!

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Hi Joe, I have done the towel trick with this and for me you loose to much of the movement. I’ll keep looking at it though.

Hi Bob,
You’re not the first person to mention this. I don’t know if it’s just the photo, or if I’m missing something. Here is the deadwood up close.

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Ha, looking nice and old! my old eyes saw bark…guess I need a bigger screen or new glasses??
love what you have done, but the final form is always in the works.

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Hey Dan, just want to say what a fantastic idea! Will definitely keep this in mind as I have a couple slab plantings in the works for this spring. On the design side, I have to say I think this tree would look nicer on a smaller slab. That’s a nice slab, but I think the relative size of it is overpowering what is a really majestic tree.

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Frankly, I am not sure about this idea. It will eventually get clogged by roots and whatnot. It will probably nor have any negative effect either…

Thanks Mike,
I do see what you’re saying. And after the slab planting live stream I figured someone would point that out… lol. My goal in the composition was to basically replicate the areas I collect from. The trees are growing in small pockets of soil surrounded by LOTS of granite, and for now that’s what this accomplishes for me. I do totally understand the ideals Ryan was talking about though, and maybe down the road I’ll adjust the composition. The stream also has me toying with the idea of adding a tree or two in the future.


Thanks Rafi,
That’s certainly a possibility. Do you think this will happen significantly more so than with the drainage holes in a pot?

no I don’t think it will happen more than with the drainage holes, I just wonder if the effort is worth it…

I don’t see a need for the french drain on a slab . Aeration layer should do the job. Won’t hurt anything, just use soil volume.

I find that just letting the water find its own way out works for me.

Is this where I’m supposed to contact you about the lava source, I want pumice too.