soil treatment for planting apple tree - Knowledgebase Question

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Question by jamesshen6
November 8, 2009
My backyard has clay-like soil. Have 3 in 1 apple tree and gravesteine apple trees. What to do to treat soils before planting the trees?

Answer from NGA
November 8, 2009
The good news is tht apple trees adapt to growing in clay soils. The bad news is that clay soils can drain poorly, which can lead to root rot. So, you'll want to get your young trees off to a good start so they can establish a healthy root system before having to venture out into the native clay soil. Here's what I do:
Dig a hole three to five times as wide as the root ball of the plant and about the same depth as the root ball. Digging a deep hole usually causes the plant to settle too deep which leads to crown rot disease. Avoid digging a hole with smooth sides which encourages roots to circle the hole. Chop the sides of the hole with the point of the shovel to create slots which force roots to grow into the surrounding soil. Pour a couple inches of potting soil or planting compost and sand into the hole. Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of a complete fertilizer such as a 10-10-10. Mix it into the bottom so the potting soil or compost and existing soil are mixed. Pour more potting soil or compost onto the pile of soil and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fertilizer. Mix it together so it is about 1 part potting soil or compost and 3 or 4 parts existing soil. The potting soil or compost will improve both aeration and drainage. Once everything is mixed together well, plant your tree, backfill with native soil and tamp it down as you fill in around the roots. After planting, water your tree well to help settle the soil. Good luck with your apple trees!

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