Five dollar plant in a fifty dollar hole?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Wet_Boots, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,367

    Some new landscaping at a (sprinkler system) customer's house wound up having an evergreen tree up and die a year or so later, even though it did receive watering from the system. What I'm wondering is whether the tree could have been set a bit higher when it was planted. It went into fairly heavy trucked-in fill, and I could envision the roots being starved for air in that heavy soil, especially if the homeowner set the sprinklers to run every day. (The site itself is rather sandy, and a fixed number of zones have to cover lawn and beds simultaneously)

    I had always left a little bit of the root ball higher than grade, on my own home plantings in clay soil, just to ensure that the roots could breathe if the ground got saturated. Of course, unless you mulch heavily enough to cover up the hump, it doesn't look good.
  2. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    You can kill a tree by overwatering it more easily than underwatering it.Two things about heavy soil,
    1-holds water and makes a plants roots drown and rot unless the clay is opened up with lots of organic matter.If you add sand to clay you get cement like soil that is impenetrable to most roots.
    2-The pore spaces in clay are so tightly packed together that air can hardly get in or out.the roots suffocate.
    things you can do in clay,
    1-Plant high
    2-break up the hardpan underneath and make an area next to or downhill from the planting hole where water can drain into it and away from the rootzone and sit there instead of around the roots in your hole.
    3-dig a wide,wide hole and amend it but mix in alot of the clay broken up and mixed with the amendment
    4-Plant trees that can live in clay soil conditions.
    5-Don't overwater or plant low. :D
  3. gdeangel

    gdeangel LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    I have two evergreens - one of which is hanging but yellowing due to overwatering. I staked out 16 inch aeration holds and things were drying up ok when rain hit yesterday. Holes all filled up with water. Soil is basically clay. Any ideas, I'd love to hear them. Raising the tree is not an easy option since I'm working by hand with no machines.

  4. poolboy

    poolboy LawnSite Silver Member
    from earth
    Messages: 2,408

  5. newz7151

    newz7151 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Tejas
    Messages: 2,419

    woo, this thread was in a 2 year coma before somebody revived it.
  6. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    yup.......where's 'sheshovel'.......used to post all the time?
  7. gdeangel

    gdeangel LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    Thanks poolboy. The link is helpful, but for an existing tree would it be prudent to dig it up and add the amendment. The tree has been in for over a year, but just started yellowing within the past few weeks due to a grade change (I think) when some other plantings were moved.

    When I staked it out, the worst saturation was in the area right around the base where the tree was probably grown in an area with a lot less clay. I was thinking next time I should wash down the roots before planting in the amended clay soil. Sounds questionable though...

Share This Page