The Q&A Archives: Adding New Loam To Site With Small Tree

Question: I am building out a mixed border (perennials and some shrubs) in my side yard and because of the size of the site and the poor quality of the soil, I am thinking of buying loam rather than working the soil. How may inches of loam should I add ? The only plant that I want to keep is a dwarf pear tree that is centered on the site. Can I add the loam around the base of the tree, or should I try to design the beds around the tree.

Answer: In general, it is always better to improve the existing soil rather than import soil. The reason for this is that the new soil may not be a good match to the existing soil and this can create more problems later. It is also never a good idea to change the soil level around a tree. They are very sensitive to this. Instead, add lots of organic matter such as rotted leaves, compost, or rotted stable manure and bedding and work carefully trying not to disturb too many tree roots. In addition, using several inches of an organic mulch year round will also help improve the soil as it breaks down over time.

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