Planting Palo Verde in Bad Soil

happs(Arizona)May 21, 2014

Just removed an extensive Saltillo tile patio with 4"-5" of concrete base and all was hauled away. Will replace with smaller paver patio and the remainder will essentially be 3/4" rock. I wanted to plant a 24" boxed Desert Museum palo verde tree in the rock area and I started to dig the necessary large hole for the tree. WOW! The first 4"-5" of dirt is as hard as concrete, but I have made some progress, although very slowly. I dig and then fill the hole with water in the hope of softening the dirt and have noticed that the water takes nearly a day to dissipate and the upper 4"-5" is still hard, but the bottom and sides have loosened-up. What soil amendments should I use for the back-fill when planting the tree? Should I use anything in the hole prior to planting the tree that will break-up the caliche like soil? Do you think the tree will make it? Thanks.

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lazy_gardens

What soil amendments should I use for the back-fill when planting the tree? None ... make the hole as deep as the root ball and 2-4x wider, drop the tree onto the bottom of the hole, remove the box, and backfill with native dirt. If you amend the soil you end up with a "bathtub" of water-retentive soil and the roots won't leave that area.

Should I use anything in the hole prior to planting the tree that will break-up the caliche like soil? Water.

When you have it dug out, fill the hole with water and let it soak in. The roots will follow the water DOWN, and are quite capable of breaking up caliche.

When you water, water wide ... spread a soaker hose along the edge and outside the planting hole, don't trickle a hose near the trunk. You want to have moist soile to attract the roots.

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We planted some Palo Breas for my DBG field work, and we used a small jackhammer to dig. Then the water truck dumped a lot of water and when it drained we planted.

No amendments, just a wide hole and a lot of water.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 1:43PM
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