Help with Leyland Cypress trees

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Albery's Lawn & Tractor, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. Albery's Lawn & Tractor

    Albery's Lawn & Tractor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,675

    We have put in sp far around 60 leyland cypress trees around the front of our property. We put them in back in early summer. They have done great so far, but lately we have had an abundant of rain. Now the trees are turning from their normal dark green to more of a yellowish green. Our soil is made up of alot of clay so I know the ground is retaining too much water. Is there anything I can do to help correct this, or will they heal over time? I have another 180 that I am ready to plant, but want to make sure they will be ok first.
     
  2. triadpm

    triadpm LawnSite Member
    from md
    Posts: 79

    I mix some sand and or peat moss in the soil to help with drainage.
     
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    Get either a bulb auger or small 2 cycle auger and drill holes or a bigger hole below the root ball and fill the core up with sand to help drain water away from the base of the roots. You would probably get better depth if you dig the hole first, then auger a hole in the bottom.

    As long as you go deep enough to get past the hard pan, the water will flow away some and help get the trees established.

    Also, make sure your digging your holes for the trees twice as wide and deep as the root ball, and amend the back fill well.

    Back home on the farm, we would put a large post hole digger on the back of a tractor, and auger holes in wet spots in fields. It helps for about 8 years at a time before you have to do it again, or finally get a field tile in.
     
  4. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,406

    Although the suggestions you have received might seem to make sense, and have probably been done for years, these are not the solutions to your problem. To start, Leyland Cypress will not grow in wet soils! Their very fibrous root system will suffocate quickly in heavy wet clay soils. The addition of sand would need to be at a 50% volume of the entire area to start to make a difference in the soil texture and the addition of peat moss, which holds more water, has no nutritional value and will increase the acidity of your planting holes, will also be detrimental.

    If you have no other choice than to plant Leylands, mounding, berming and drainage will be your best solution as well in every situation adding compost will be the most helpful step to create better soil structure. A better solution with similar results would be the use of Green Giant Arborvitae which will adapt and grow in wetter soils, has a similar growth rate and habit of a Leyland, but has proven to be more pest and disease resistant.

    If you are able to find a permeable layer of soil, as WG has suggested, drainage will be your easiest and least expensive long term solution, if you must go with Leylands. Not sure where Jackson is, but most of my work in North Carolina found nothing but more clay the deeper you dug, unless near the I95 corridor or cost. Out west, you also get to deal with clay, rock and ledge.

    Kirk
     
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    Totally agree 100% with your post.

    I get so ticked off every time I go to a home built in the last 10 years. Everybody uses clay for their back-fill and only 2 inches of top soil on top. Then that's all been done before a 100 different contractors have use the yard for a parking lot.
     
  6. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    Totally agree 100% with your post.

    I get so ticked off every time I go to a home built in the last 10 years. Everybody uses clay for their back-fill and only 2 inches of top soil on top. Then that's all been done before a 100 different contractors have use the yard for a parking lot.

    Digging holes is the first and cheapest thing to start out with. Sometimes you get lucky and find a permeable layer, and sometimes you don't.
     
  7. Albery's Lawn & Tractor

    Albery's Lawn & Tractor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,675

    Jacksonville is located near the coast. For the most part our area has decent soil. However on our land, some areas you could dig down 2' and never hit clay, others 6" down you will. I know not to do Petemoss, and where we are going to put the remaining 180 at I don't foresee a problem as the soil is better. Its basically the ones I planted in the summer I'm worrying about. We have just had a lot more rain then usual and its started to take its toll. For the one's that are starting to turn is what I'm wanting to save.
     
  8. Albery's Lawn & Tractor

    Albery's Lawn & Tractor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,675

    White Gardens: do you think it would help if I went around the base of the trees already planted with a bulb auger?
     
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,654

    I'm sorry but a clay soil doesn't retain more water than regular dirt,
    matter of fact it retains less due to the high compaction,
    a clay soil is far denser than dirt hence there is less space for water,
    or anything else for that matter, such as roots.

    That would be due to compaction, fibrous means it is a delicate system with hair-like extensions which need room to BREATHE,
    the clay is thus suffocating the plant and that would be more than likely part of the problem.

    Now if it's too much water then it's too much water, but clay doesn't retain more,
    breaking up the clay would increase the soil's water retention ability, however it would
    also increase the soil's ability to disperse water meaning it would have a more even
    dispersal rate and thus the easy solution is to treat the clay.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2008
  10. BrandonV

    BrandonV LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,173

    peat moss holds water, don't use it in clay. most likely you've gotten them too deep in the soil or they've been too heavily mulched. if you went real heavy w/ the hardwood mulch the soil might have dipped more acid and that too could cause the yellowing (LIME AWAY), unfortunately most likely it's too late for the leylands and most of evergreens (conifers and etc) are pretty much on their last legs before they send out any signals of unhappiness. also how big of a yard to you have to have planted 60 leylands???? all the best to ya and good luck!
     

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