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Margo writes: "Perhaps I could get your expert opinion? I would like to plant three Cleveland pear trees in my backyard. I was thinking of building a raised bed (with flowers, too) around them to divide the yard into different areas. I just Googled 'planting trees raised beds' and found lots of opinions that point to the contrary. They said that the flowers would compete with the roots, that the roots would suffer in the confines of the enclosed bed, and that trees don't thrive with lots of topsoil on their roots.

"Is this true? These are not inexpensive trees, so I don't want to jeopardize my investment, but I also want to know that I've got all the right information before I start this endeavor."

Our experts answer this question on planting trees in raised beds in the Landscaping forum. If you take anything at all away from this discussion, it should be this: that in Googling for answers to your landscaping questions, you must often double-check that you're "on the same page" with the authors whom you're consulting. A subtle difference in perspective can skew an answer rather dramatically. Margo, fortunately, double-checked her Web research on my Landscaping forum, where, Dan, one of our landscaping experts, makes a crucial distinction that sets her mind at ease.

Cleveland pear trees, incidentally, are considered an improvement on Bradford pear trees, being less susceptible to damage from ice, snow and high winds.

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March 10, 2009 at 6:36 pm
(1) MO Oak says:

Anything would be an improvement over a Bradford Pear, and I doubt I would ever consider a Cleaveland Pear, either. Their only advantage is that nurseries can propagate them easily, and thus like to sell them.
Do a bit of research in the library or at the nearest botanical garden or on line and find a good tree.

March 10, 2009 at 11:48 pm
(2) Kunuthur Srinivasa Reddy says:

Raised bed is not required for planting trees. It is enough to dig a pit of 2 cubic feet dimension (2x2x2), plant the sapling and fill up the pit with soil + organic manure such as vermicompost. Finally press the soil firmly to exclude the air from the pit and to ensure good contact between the soil particules and the root system. At the surface of the pit, add leaf litter to serve as the mulch. Finally water the plant.
That is all. Visit the plant regularly to observe its establishment,growth and development. Apply once in 15 days, the liquid preparation containing 10 kg cow dung, 5 litre cow urine, 2 kg horse gram powder, 1 kg of black jaggery and a handful of soil from the field and 200 litre of water, all mixed and fermented for 2 days covering the container with cloth at the top and periodical mixing thoroughly). This solution has to be applied at 5 litres per plant. No synthetic chemicals are to be used such as chemical fertilizers.

March 11, 2009 at 8:46 am
(3) barb f says:

fascinating recipie, I wonder what black jaggery is, and where are people going to get cow urine? I can go to my mom’s farm but most have no access. how about just using manure tea you know, letting maure sit in water for a couple days and watering with that.

March 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm
(4) Joe says:

How DO you get cow urine and “black jaggery” and “horse gram powder” ???!!

March 11, 2009 at 10:11 pm
(5) Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker" says:

Hi David,
I often plant trees in raised planters here in Los Angeles with great success. If the planter is too small to accommodate root growth then you are inviting trouble.


March 12, 2009 at 12:12 am
(6) Larry says:

The most important thing- ensure that the rootball(soil around the pot) is planted higher than the surrounding soul. Trees are vunerable to damage if the section where the tree meets the soul is buried by others – especially if it is too wet there.

October 28, 2012 at 12:56 am
(7) Lisa says:

Comment #2 says that “Raised bed is not required for planting trees.”
That may be true in his area, but I DO have to use raised beds for my fruit trees, as I have clay soil that sits under an inch of water after a heavy rain. My apple was planted last year, in a raised bed of cinder blocks (16 total, 4 each side, 2 deep) and grew well.
I will be putting in pears the same way.

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