Landscape Fabric (Planting Apple Tree)


Old 04-08-07, 11:42 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 4
Landscape Fabric (Planting Apple Tree)

I bought a new apple tree and wanted to plant it in my backyard.
When I started digging a hole, I found that the area was covered with landscape fabric, probably something that was installed few years ago. I cut a hole in the fabric and kept digging further. But I found that the soil texture was sort of hard and clay like in that area compared to the other areas without landscape fabric where the soil was kind of loose and easy to handle.

My question is since the soil under the fabric looks kind of hard, is it OK to go ahead and plant my tree there? Is it normal to find hard, clay like soil under the landscape fabric? Will my plant thrive if I plant it there?

Thanks a bunch,
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Old 04-08-07, 12:08 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 15,834
It's always best to get a soil test prior to planting. Your local Cooperative Extension Service can help you with this. Some garden centers offer the service. A soil test will tell you what amendments need to be made to the soil prior to planting. Apple trees are pretty tolerate of different soils, as long as they get adequate nutrition and the pH is good--not extremely acidic or alkaline. Heavy, poorly drained soil is not good for apple trees. As with most plants, they can't tolerate wet feet. Crumbly soil with medium fertility and slightly on the acid side is best.

Soil prep is best done a month or more before planting so that the soil has time to settle. Many recommend a 2' deep x 4' wide hole, incorporating as much organic material as possible so that the soil is crumbly. Then, when it's time to plant (Oct-Dec best but in spring through mid March in most areas will work), dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots. Hole should be at same depth as the pot or to soil line if a bare root tree. Skip fertilizer at time of planting because it can burn roots. Tamp soil with shoes. Water if conditions are dry.

Soil types vary from area to area and from yard to yard in your neighborhood and can vary within your own yard. "Is it normal to find hard, clay like soil under the landscape fabric?" Not unless you live where there is hard, clay like soil.
Old 04-08-07, 12:24 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 1,959
If the fabric is the type that allows water to penetrate then it is unlikely that it effected the soil.If it is made of sheet plastic with no penetration ability then it is possible that long term blockage of water could have impacted the soil.

The advice in the previous post is a good way to procede.If you are dealing with sheet plastic material it might be a good idea to replace it with the fabric that does allow water through it.
Old 04-08-07, 01:11 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 4
Thanks twelvepole and spdavid for your responses.
I will try to do a soil test.

The landscape fabric used was two layers of sheet plastic. Hence the soil under the fabric was almost impervious to water. We tried pouring a glass of water into the hole and it almost took like 5 mins to drain, which I guess is not good. I will call the service man to find out what can be done.

Old 04-20-07, 01:35 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Maryland zone 7
Posts: 1,716
Hi Silpong,

I don't know if you resolved your problem, but landscape fabric can effect the soil under it. Because worms and other small critters will find it diffucult to move through the layers of the soil, they can't mix the soil for you. Worms work their way up through the soil and back down again, mixing the in their waste (called castings) as they move through the soil.

Hopefully you will be able to remove the landscape fabric.

Old 04-21-07, 10:21 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 930
Dig the hole twice the size of the rootball, mixin some compost and topsoil and plant. If you can rototill the soil it would be great if not just mix in thoroughly, throw in some slow release fertilizer and water thoroughly.

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