Asked on Apr 3, 2012

Walter/Erica, help with tree planting.

Stacy WDouglas HuntErica Glasener


So I'm going to be planting some trees in my new yard, chinese elm, red maple, river birch, crape myrtle and I have red clay. Just finished the Gerogia Gardener's Guide by Erica and Walter and it says not to amend the soil when digging a hole for a tree. However, when you get to the individual tree in the book, it specifies the soil the tree needs. So... do I amend the soil or not? I would think I have to do something to help the poor little guys. Ideas?
5 answers
  • Walter Reeves
    on Apr 3, 2012

    The reason not to amend soil is that most tree root systems quickly outgrow the area you amend....and they may become so enamored of the enriched soil that the roots don't want to get out into the hard clay world. That said, the more you can loosen soil around a planting area, the better the tree will feel: more oxygen for roots. When we specified the type soil a tree needs, it's more like "in a perfect world, this tree grows best in these conditions". But if you loosen soil in an area 6 - 8' wide around the spot where you plant each tree, and mulch afterward out to the dripline, you'll give most trees just what they want.

  • Erica Glasener
    on Apr 4, 2012

    Walter covered it but I want to add that for perennials and shrubs I would amend the soil with compost or soil conditioner to get them off to a good start.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 4, 2012

    That is pretty much universal advice, Stacy. It's true in Florida as well, where I'm planting in almost pure sand rather than dense clay. But, truth be told, it's hard for me not to throw in a little Black Kow when I'm planting. Otherwise I'm afraid the plant may think, "You want me to leave this nice comfy pot and grow in that?" Judging by the rate things grow down here, they actually seem to have no such qualms.

  • Stacy W
    on Apr 4, 2012

    Thanks Walter!

  • Stacy W
    on Apr 4, 2012

    I meant, Thanks All!

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