Mounded planting of citrus trees

noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)April 9, 2011


Recently, we bought some citrus trees and the nurseryman showed us a new kind of planting that LSU is working with. There is no hole dug and the citrus tree's rootball is set upon the top of the ground and soil is mounded around it. I think it has to do with drainage.

Does anyone have any experience with this method of planting, or has anyone heard of it?



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art_1(10 CA)

Seems like that may take less work and could dry out faster than digging a hole, but could work well otherwise (good drainage/aeration as you stated).

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 10:18PM
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I've been tempted to try something like that but I always
wind up using landscape timbers or concrete blocks to make the profile of the area right and not eroding off the roots. It takes a wide swath of dirt to work and my yard isn't big enough to let the soil slope off to its natural angle of repose.

I have been trying to get my son to get a couple of truck loads of good soil and using his father-in-laws tracor to level it smooth and it out into a berm and the plant this row of nicetrees that I have in pots for him (for his 2 acres). That is really what you're doing but this way you don't have to lug it around by hand. The berm method is the Cadillac of plantings in soil that needs drainage. The Harris County (Houston) Master Gardeners' orchard is this way.

Another way for us small yard folks to do it is to start small. Say 3 blocks on a side and add a one or two next year and expand it little by little as the roots spread to the edge of the bed.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 2:51AM
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The flat,level brown clay here sits below many individual mounds of sandy, organic soil with happy citrus, peach, plum, etc. trees growing inside the mounds. Eventually the trees grow roots into the moist clay, which is good.You can pour 4 to 8 bags of sandy, organic rich soil stuff to make a new mound, make a doughnut hole in the center, place your new rootball there, cover it, water it in, and you are done. No shoveling down into the clay vault.Each year a little more soil mix can be added to enlarge the tree footprint. I usually add composted cow contributions to welcome outward growing roots. Because the loose mound components will settle downward over time, You can start it a few inches higher than you expect it to be in the future. Steeper equals more erosion if you don't mulch. Plan B would be to buy very large used nursery pots from landscapers, etc. and clip off the bottom several inches. They make instant raised beds. They can later be clipped off and a wider mound can be installed to surround the established tree........When hot, dry weather leads to lots of 1" cracks in the dried clay, I wonder how much damage is done to tender , shallow roots of fruit trees that are planted in straight clay. Raised beds have been around forever. Welcome to the huge club.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 12:43PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Thanks for the great input. My front yard is very small and I'm now wondering if it would work, mounding...

I thought the roots would reach the edge of the mound and naturally head to deeper soil levels, so if that doesn't happen, then I would have a whole front yard that was a raised mound, wouldn't I?



    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 12:42AM
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that's interesting. would work great for areas with large amounts of rainfall and/or poor drainage.

here in houston its been a hot and dry spring. i've been watering my raised beds every other day cuz they dry out so quickly.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 12:51AM
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LSU agrees with me? I've been telling my citrus tree customers to do exactly what you describe for several years. All my trees are in raised beds. Clay is about 18 inches below a very poorly draining sand/clay mixture here in SE Texas.

Here is a link that might be useful: mrtexas

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 1:26AM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

What if we did a half-mound, with some of the rootball in the clay soil and a lower mound around the tree trunk, then use one of those retaining walls made with the bricks you see at Home Depot and Lowe's out a way from the trunk that could be mulched? If so, what diameter circle would be good for the little tree?

Also, would you tell me what kind of soil mix to get from HD, or Lowe's as the very top soil mound? We're not gardeners.

Mr. TX--Yes! It looks like LSU agrees with you! What does TX A & M say about such things?

We don't have sand here--just brown clay soil. It soaks up water pretty well, but when it's dry, it's hard like concrete! I found that out when my boxer suddenly ran at some birds in the back yard and yanked me off my feet. Mais, that ground was so hard it knocked the breath out of me. Had to lie there a few minutes to see if I was really hurt. Sandie had forgotten the birds when she saw me lying on the grass and came back to me, looking worried. We need to get the fence repaired so she can run the yard without having to be on a leash.

I guess I need to just jump in, plant the little tree before it dies in its pot and see what happens. I'm acting like the old maw-maw that I am, I suppose.


Maw-Maw Vee :)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:50AM
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I think that your idea of digging a hollow for the bottom half of the root ball and mounding soil and then mulch over the top half is a good solution for a small planting area in clay soil.

We have clay here and azaleas do not like it. I replanted using this method to rescue an azalea that was in a deep swoon. It worked well. The plant neither dried out during summer dry spells nor drowned in the clay. As the yearly applications of mulch accumulated, the mound became scarcely noticeable.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:05AM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Hi Cath!

Where is, "here," for you? Azaleas love it around here. Good thing about azaleas is that you can mound the soil and they will root out into it like air layering, just like fig trees will.

Alas, we dug a hole and put the tree into the ground the tried and true way. I hope the tree will do well. That's how the tree down the street is planted and it's done so well.

If this tree fails to thrive, we'll try the half-mound.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:11AM
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Hi Noss,

Here is Dayton, Ohio. Azaleas don't like the neutral soil with limestone subsoil here either. Hope all goes well with your new citrus tree.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 12:36AM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Thanks, Cath.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 2:00AM
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