too much water retention - Knowledgebase Question

Vacaville, Ca
Question by turnerenglan
February 28, 2010
Hello Smiling Had a company deliver soil (1/2 top soil 1/2 compost mix) and planted a lime tree in this soil. I did not mix it with anything else and with the rain I noticed that this soil is very water retentive. The tree in now almost swimming the sludge. The surrounding soil is clay so the water is just sitting in the hole. Is it Ok to leave it or add maybe sand? tks

Answer from NGA
February 28, 2010


I don't know how long ago you planted your tree but if it's been recently, I'd dig it up and mix the top soil in with the clay so there's a better chance for drainage. You've essentially constructed a bathtub and with the clay on the bottom, it will take weeks to drain. Citrus trees will adapt to growing in clay soils so mixing the topsoil/compost into the native soil will improve the tilth and drainage and your lime tree will still be happy. An alternative would be to poke holes in the clay with a metal rod to give the excess water a place to go. Use a steel or galvanized metal rod or something sturdy enough to drive down into the soil past the depth of the topsoil and 6-8 inches into the clay. (I use a length of rebar for this purpose.) Poke lots of holes. You should see immediate results as the water funnels through the holes and is absorbed into the clay. Just FYI, the compost in the topsoil mixture will eventually decompose and the soil level will sink so anytime you import soil with compost, mix it with your native soil and mix it over a large area rather than just in a planting hole. This way the soil level will remain constant. Best wishes with your lime tree.

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