front yard - Knowledgebase Question

Alexandria, VA
Question by rsneddon13
August 22, 2007
Our front yard receives direct sun for most of the day.

We just bought the house a few months ago, and discovered that apparently grass won't grow in the front yard. I believe it is likely a problem with the soil.

I'm not concerned about grass, but I would like to plant a cherry tree.

1. Will it thrive in the sun?
2. Can I plant it now, or do I need to wait until the spring?
3. What should I do to the soil so the tree gets the nutrients it needs?

I grew up with flowers and plants - my father has a green thumb. I did not inherit it. I would appreciate any and all advice you can give.



Answer from NGA
August 22, 2007


A cherry tree needs full sun to grow well, so that is not a problem. I would be concerned about the soil however. If there is an issue with the soil then it might also affect the tree. I would suggest you work with your local county cooperative extension to check your soil and see if it is suited to a cherry tree.

You can plant trees in the fall or spring. At planting, loosen the soil over a wide area and about as deep as the rootball. The looser soil encourages the tree roots to grow into the surrounding area. The best care for a new tree is to water it correctly.

Over watering and under watering can both cause root damage. Your goal in watering is to keep the soil evenly moist like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet and not dried out any time it is not frozen. To know if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger. If it is still damp, do not water yet. When you do water, apply it to the soil surface and water thoroughly and slowly so it soaks down to the deeper roots. After watering, wait a few hours and then dig down to see how far the water soaked in; it can be surprising.

There is no set schedule for watering, it depends on your soil type and on the weather. Using an organic mulch several inches thick over the root area will help reduce watering needs as well as feed the soil gradually as it breaks down over time.

Good luck with your cherry tree!

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