Preparing the ground for a small orchard
Ok, Ive mentioned previously that IÂll be taking down 3 larger trees this coming spring to create a small front yard orchard. (This is in addition to the 7 or smaller apple trees I have on the property, some of which are in less than ideal locations) This will give me room for 5 more fruit trees and theyÂll now get full sun.
My problem isÂ what to do with the soil. IÂd say itÂs a good amount of clay, but also I believe there is a good amount of gravel. Some stones from the driveway and some from the road have made their way in too. Grass has a pretty hard time, and because I donÂt really water there, it can become hard-baked/dusty in areas. In other areas, where itÂs shady some grass grows. Not exactly ideal orchard soil. But, then again, I guess itÂs not terrible because there are 3 trees (large maple, 2 choke cherry trees), and a very large oak tree nearby donÂt have any problems. IÂve followed other threads which have basically said "Clay isnÂt so bad"Â But, IÂm trying to do better than "Not too bad".
Long term plans for this area will be to probably remove some of the top layer and replace it with nice loam for grass, etc. But, thatÂs part of a bigger yard project that I wonÂt be able to start until the following year. And, I want to get these trees going now. I like doing the fruits with my young daughters, and every year we delay, they get a bit older.
HereÂs what I was thinking: When I have the 3 trees removed, I will have the excavator dig 5 holes in the areas where fruit trees are going to go. These holes would probably be 8-10 feet in diameter and about 3 feet down. For the bottom 18", IÂd put a layer of sand for nice drainage. On top of that, IÂll place 18" nice loam. (I have almost this exact situation for another apple tree near the house, and it seems very happy. Also, Mr. Cummins told me that loam over sand is ideal)
The trick will then be to do all this such that later, when we loam the rest of the yard, everything will come out levelÂ So the plan mentioned above will be shifted up a little. (We did something very similar in the back yard with our volleyball court. In that case I built the court up more than 5 feet in an area. 3 years later, when we finished the back yard with 800 yards of fill, the levels matched up perfectly)
Is this plan crazy? This is my first attempt at planning orchard soil, so be gentle with the responses. :-)
Thanks as always,