The Q&A Archives: Poor drainage and wind

Question: I live in the desert (93536) where the soil is like clay. I was told to try gypsum to help enable the soil to drain. I planted a peach tree with mulch but It appears to be drying out despite my heavy watering. Should I build a raised bed for that tree, and the mexican avacodo that I'm afraid to plant? Also it does get REALLY windy, can you suggest any trees good to block wind?

Answer: Your soil may make it difficult for roots to establish, even if you build raised beds. It might be better to plant in the native soil and then build watering basins beneath the trees to help the water you apply remain over the root system and trickle down to wet the entire root mass. Just mound up some soil all around the tree about 12" from the trunk. Fill the basin with water, allow to drain, then fill it a second time. Do this twice a week in the summertime and once a week in the winter months. If the water just sits there and does not drain, use a metal rod to poke holes in the soil. I use a 4' long piece of rebar (available near the concrete blocks in the garden center) and push it down into the soil at least 2', 6-8 times throughout the watering basin. This encourages good drainage but it needs to be repeated every 3-4 months. Your clay soil will retain water and moist soil will make it easier for the tree roots to penetrate. About every 3-4 months add some Iron Sulphate to the soil (just sprinkle around in the watering basin) to help the leaves remain green.

Some good shrubs to use as wind blocks include Xylosma congestum (Shiny Xylosma);
grows rapidly into a large shrub or a small tree, but it can take any amount of pruning. Rhaphiolepis indica (India Hawthorne), has a long period of bloom, beginning in the spring. Prune after the first flowering and as needed to control size and shape.

Good luck with your landscape.

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