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Soil is the basis of all healthy tree growth. A permeable, humus-rich and well-prepared soil offers the roots air and space for their optimal development, stores water and nutrients and gives them to the plants as needed. On the other hand, if fruit trees are planted in unsuitable, poorly prepared soil, they will bring little joy in the long run.

The fruit tree does not thrive in soil that is too firm

Clay soil is not always difficult soil

Basically, clay is a mixture of clay and sand, which is typical of the landscapes of Germany that were shaped by the Ice Age. Not every clay soil has to be problematic, because there are different types to be distinguished. Well-drained loamy soils with a high proportion of sand are very well suited for growing fruit, while heavy, compacted and wet soils require thorough preparation. These soils often tend to become waterlogged, and the roots cannot anchor themselves as necessary and grow through them. But caution is also required with very sandy loamy soils: these are often dry and poor in nutrients.

How to recognize an unsuitable floor

Fruit trees need deep, well-drained soil for their roots. This also applies to shallow roots, because if water accumulates under the roots, it can have devastating consequences. If the tree does not feel comfortable in its previous location, you will notice this from the following indicators:

  • stunted growth
  • yellow or lightened, sometimes brownish and often small leaves
  • few flowers and fruits
  • small fruits

When waterlogged, the leaves often turn pale yellow, soften, wilt and fall off. In the worst case, the roots will rot and the tree will die off completely.

Pay attention to the pH value

Not only the condition of the soil, but also its pH value is immensely important for tree health. Most types of fruit thrive best at pH values between 5.5 and 7 in the slightly acidic to neutral range. The sweet cherry likes it a bit chalky; the other types of tree fruit and most berries prefer slightly acidic soil. The quince in particular is quite “shy of lime”. Blueberries and cranberries have extremely sour preferences: a pH value of 3.5 to 5 suits them best.

Here's how to fix it

Any soil must be loosened as deeply as possible before planting. This applies not only to the planting pit itself, but also to the surrounding area - in the case of a tree, preferably as far as the crown will later reach. If necessary, you can also use a powerful motor hoe for heavy soil. You can rent these for a fee in construction or agricultural machinery stores. After digging the planting pit, you should definitely loosen its bottom thoroughly. In the case of loamy soil, working in plenty of sand, fine gravel or grit (€46.95) also ensures more looseness. A high humus content also ensures more permeability, which is why you should always add plenty of compost when planting. In severe cases, only transplanting helps.


You can check the pH value of your soil yourself with test sticks or a meter from a specialist retailer.

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