Who grows their trees in raised beds?

last year, i lost my second apple tree on this property. a lodi. the bark rotted at the soil line and the tree was declining. i grasped the trunk and rocked it a little. to my surprise it pulled free pretty easy. seems the root ball couldn’t didn’t grow much beyond the original hole i had dug for it. maybe my heavy clay, rocky soil is too impenetrable for apple roots to spread in? i have a Garfield King y. transparent that was originally discovered growing in my home town, from St. Lawrence nurseries coming in may. maybe i should try growing in a 4’ by 4’ 12in raised bed to give it better drainage ? i had gravelly soil at my old house and my apples grew like crazy. my other plants have no problems growing here. anyone else have this issue? i have the apple and 2 cherries I’m putting in , in may and don’t want to have the same issues.

Are you sure you don’t have voles feeding on the roots? This happened to me with a beautiful pink Japanese Maple. A few years back I saw it leaning and when I tried to set it straight, it moved too easily. So I mixed up some rooting soln and some ferts and staked it upright after stomping on the obviously disturbed (tunneled) soil. It lived and thrived. They just did this to one of my landscape shrubs. I noticed 2 were laying down - same thing.

It is hard to see tunnels when things are mulched so I just go into my perrenial beds and stomp around periodically. The moles make the tunnels looking for grubs and the voles use them to feed on roots.

Most of my trees are in raised beds! They loved it. Grew like crazy!

If your area allows the growing of avocados, they would be well established if they are planted on a raised bed. Build a 4’ x 4’ retaining wall made of retaining bricks 18" high. Plant the avocado in the middle, just partly into the ground level and then fill up with porous well draining garden soil. This helps prevent root rot, which is the number 1 enemy of avocados during the wet months.


i do have vole problems in some years but i didn’t have any sign of them burrowing in the mulch. my soil is way too hard/ rocky for moles to tunnel here. the roots only grew as big as the hole i dug 4 years ago and i scratched the edges of the hole to encourage the roots to spread out.

good to hear! ill get some 2’’ by 12’’ cedar and tiil the ground well where i plan to put the bed. with our cold a wood raised bed would warm more quickly in the spring than concrete blocks.

I grow almost all of my fruit trees in 4’ x 4’ and 3’ x 3’ raised beds. While I have only harvested a little bit of fruit so far - it’s only been 2 years - all of the trees are very healthy. It is, however a lot more work to put together a dozen raised beds and dig out the grass, etc., than it is to just dig 12 planting holes.


I’m putting in just 3 trees and using my small front tine tiller to work the spot before laying down the bed so shouldn’t be too bad. how high are your beds?

I built a bunch of raised beds years ago for the purpose of growing annual vegetables but as my fruit obsession grew and I ran out of room for new fruit trees, I gave in to the temptation to plant trees in the raised beds. The soil in those beds has much better tilth than most of my yard so the trees grow really well in there. Now I just grow veggies in gaps between the trees or in pots near the house.


I have clay soil and grow trees on mounds. I dig a hole about 3x3 or 4x4 and 2-3 ft deep, mix the excavated clay with compost and gypsum, and fill back the hole with this mixture. This creates a mound about 2 ft high.


I use the ground here as my soil is excellent. I use raised beds for blueberries but mostly to keep my dog out. He understands he is not supposed to be in the beds, and will not go in them. Else I would just use the excellent ground soil. My dog can’t tell garden from grass and is confused with in ground plantings (I have now fenced any I have off).

It is possible the roots girdled too. Never struck out into the native soil as the soil in the hole was better. Or the roots were girdled from being in a container, and just continued to stay that way. Why you must cut the roots. Sometimes you do it ll right and it happens anyway.


This is my raised beds fro jujubes built in the spring of 2016. The area was low/soggy esp. with heavy rain. Most fruit trees do not like wet feet. So far, so good.


i did a x cut on the roots before planting but wasn’t root bound too bad. just my soil. it doesn’t drain well either so i add a lot of peat and compost in the hole with what good soil i have once the fist sized rocks are removed. I’m definitely doing beds. thanks for the input everyone.

thats a nice design. i think ill do the same w/ mine.

I’ve done this with my cane fruits blueberries, lingonberries and my fuji apple. so far so good. only thing is watering it tends to wash water away from the plants so i made a small trench around the base.

If you can mix compost in the top soil before you fill boxes. I did not think of it and was in a hurry. By the 2nd year, my trees showed sign of nutrient deficiency. It is harder to fix it later.

If you can build boxes early. Do the compost and soil mix, fill the boxes and let it sit for a while before you plant your trees in it. Your soil will settle some. Let it settle before you plant is best.

with the raised beds i already have. i top dress w/ more compost /castings after it settles some them mulch with coarse hardwood sawdust. i add azomite powder and kelp meal to my soil mix to compensate for lack of real soil. after their roots get down to my natural soil they get all the micros they need. the crappy clay is good for something! i also premix my soil/ compost in a 55 gal barrel and let it age for a month before using , adding water as needed to keep moist.

Yes that is, good job! Also when the boars rot, it will be easy to put new ones in.

Yes good idea. I still mound mine high as possible in the bed, as organic matter breaks down it will settle and keep settling. I add fresh soil to my beds every year, some though are still down 6 inches as my mix is really almost completely organic matter. It’s not for trees though, so no big deal, a yearly ritual.

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i don’t remove the old boards . i just measure so i encase the old boards and leave them to rot. the cedar ones lasts about 20-25 yrs before they rot so I’m probably going to be pushing up daisies before they need replacing. :wink:

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Why would you dig out the grass…if you’re covering it with 12 inches of fill? Just curious.

I think i have 13 beds, so I had to go with pine. I may replace them with cedar next time, or as they rot! I used 2x12’s too. One bed is 24 feet long.

I did too, as I needed it for the bare spots the dog kicked away elsewhere in my yard, else I would have left it. I did throw scrape pine, corn stalks, yard waste and pruning scraps on the bottom of many of the beds. A little hugelkultur bed.