Planting Fruit Trees On Raised Garden Beds: Everything You Need To Know
It seems impossible to plant your own fruit trees in the backyard if your soil is of poor quality, poorly drained or seems to be a safe haven for weeds. If this is the case, a raised garden bed may be the solution you are looking for.
Fruit trees can grow very well on the raised garden bed because gardening on the raised garden bed allows you to better control soil quality, soil drainage, weed infestation, soil compaction, and so on! In addition, if you are willing to do some extra work in advance, the raised garden bed is easy to maintain in several growing seasons.
Benefits of planting trees on raised garden beds
Of course, you can successfully plant fruit trees without building a raised garden bed. However, planting on a raised garden bed is a good way to prepare yourself for success. The raised garden bed has the following advantages:
- Control soil quality. This is because you may need to purchase soil to add to existing soil to fill the bed. This allows you to buy well drained soil with an ideal ph, free from disease and harmful bacteria, and in good condition.
- Prevent trees from being damaged. Gardeners can easily damage their trees unconsciously when they are mowing lawns, renovating houses or doing other mechanical work. In a supported raised garden bed, the possibility of such damage is much less.
- Weed control. It is difficult for weeds to penetrate into a raised garden bed, even if it is supported on the ground. Wooden or stone barriers supporting beds make it almost impossible for weeds to take over.
Preparation and site selection
Improper site selection and preparation is one of the most common reasons for failure of fruit trees, whether they are directly planted underground or on raised garden beds. Fruit trees are a long-term investment, so it is in your best interest to correctly select and prepare planting sites.
No matter what type of fruit you want to plant, your tree planting location should include the following:
- Very spacious. Know the height and width of your tree when it is fully mature, and remember that your tree's roots will exceed the width of its branches. Look for locations where branches will not touch structures or other trees.
- Sufficient sunshine. If you want to have a good fruit harvest, your tree needs six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day throughout the growing season.
- Take shelter from the wind. Some fruit trees rely on wind to help pollinate; Others simply can't stand the wind well. Study the wind resistance of the fruit trees you want and make corresponding plans.
- Good airflow. Cold air often settles at the bottom of slopes, and warm air often forms near buildings. Both cold air hole and warm air hole are unfavorable to fruit trees.
After selecting the planting site, you should conduct two soil tests: general soil test and penetration test. Even if you plan to buy the best soil on the market for the raised garden bed, your roots will still contact the native soil in the yard. Your soil tests can provide you with key information when you are ready to plant.
General Soil Testing
Collect soil samples from your planting site and have them tested by your local promotion agency or other soil experts. Their analysis can provide you with the following information:
Soil composition (i.e. Sand or clay)
PH value of soil (acidity or alkalinity)
Nutrients already contained in the soil
Are there any harmful fungi, bacteria or other organisms living in your soil
Use this information to guide you to the right trees, the right soil type to buy, and the right fertilizer to add. If your soil tests show that your planting site is rich in pests, you may need to use fungicides in the soil or choose a different location for your trees.
The penetration test will tell you the drainage of the native soil. The results of the penetration test can help you make the right soil improvement, including what type of soil you may want to buy to fill the raised garden bed.
You can easily perform penetration testing by following these steps:
At your planting site, dig a hole one foot wide and one foot deep.
Add water to the hole until it is completely filled. Let the water drain overnight.
The next day, fill the hole with water for the second time, and measure the depth of water with a ruler or other gauge.
Measure the depth every hour until the hole is empty.
The ideal drainage rate is one to three inches per hour. If the water is discharged from the tunnel slowly, it is necessary to add organic matter, compost, peat moss or other soil amendments to improve its drainage capacity.
If your soil drains more than three inches per hour, you will need to irrigate more frequently. Fruit trees perform well in well drained soil, but if the soil drains too quickly, even after heavy rain, your trees will suffer from water pressure.
Plant your fruit trees
The end of winter or early spring is the best time to plant fruit trees. Once the ground thaws, it's time to dig holes and plant trees.
Dig a hole
When you dig holes in your trees, there are three important things to remember:
Timing. Do not dig holes in advance; Wait until you are ready to plant. Digging ahead of time will expose you to the risk of side wall glass, which will happen when the wall becomes hard. This prevents normal root development.
Depth. Measure the root ball of trees before planting. The hole you dig should be only one or two inches deeper than the length of the root ball. You want the top root of the tree to be under the ground after planting.
Diameter. The diameter of the hole shall be at least twice the width of the root ball. Most of the root growth is horizontal, so digging a wide hole will make it easier for you to correctly arrange the root system when planting
Depth and diameter are very important. A hole that is too deep or too narrow will not allow normal root growth and will not be corrected after planting trees.
Plant your trees
Put your tree in the hole and carefully spread its roots. If there is not enough space for the roots to expand naturally without overlapping, move the tree to make the hole wider, and then try again.
Hold fast to your tree so that when you refill the hole with soil, it will remain upright. Tamp the soil with your feet. Strong enough to eliminate air pockets without compacting the soil and damaging the roots.
When you fill the hole, your tree will sink a little, but it should not. If you find it sinking, loosen the soil, backfill the hole more firmly, and tamp the soil more firmly when continuing planting.
Once your tree is in place, water slowly but deeply. The drip irrigation system or soaking hose will work well on your raised garden bed. Make sure the root ball is well soaked.
You should not fertilize when planting. You may not need to fertilize at all in the first year. Get familiar with the nutrient requirements of trees, make plans, and apply fertilizer regularly after the trees are established.
After planting, you may want to add mulch around the tree base. Covering helps to maintain moisture and regulate soil temperature. As the raised garden bed is often drier and warmer than the ground itself, mulch is very helpful to keep trees healthy, especially in the hottest month of the year.
Taking care of a tree in a supported raised garden bed is not much different from taking care of a tree directly planted underground. You may need to irrigate more frequently, but other care and maintenance procedures will depend on the trees, climate, and soil you plant.
For growers with poor soil quality who want to avoid potential mechanical damage or just want to better control variables such as weeds and diseases, it is a good choice to build a raised garden bed for your fruit trees. Building a raised garden bed is the most challenging part of the process, but carefully built beds will last for several years and provide an excellent opportunity for your trees to succeed.