Solid level around fairly newly established apple trees #732125 - Ask Extension

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Solid level around fairly newly established apple trees #732125

Asked October 26, 2020, 12:51 AM EDT

Good evening! We have three apple trees, 2 of which are 2 years old, and one that is about four. Their trucks are 1”-2”, and they are in the 4’-6’ range. This is the first year any of them have fruited. We are redoing the beds around them, and want to raise up the soil level several inches. Is it okay to ad dirt around the base of each tree, or should we somehow leave space around them so that the soil level isn’t raised? Or, dig them up to replant them higher? If we add soil around them, how much is okay? Thanks so much in advance for your thoughts and advice! Katrina

Multnomah County Oregon

Expert Response

Adding or removing even a small amount of soil around a tree, or changing the grade around the tree, has the potential to injure or weaken the tree and, in extreme cases, kill it.

A few inches of organic matter-rich, high-quality soil added around a healthy, vigorous specimen will often have little negative impact, but adding 4-6 or more inches of soil will typically bring more serious consequences.

If it under 4 inches of fill dirt, spread it around the entire root system. I'd keep the dirt away from the apple's trunk. Don't bury the graft union of the apple.

If you have more than a couple of inches of fill dirt, I would dig out and replant the trees higher in the soil. Two year-old plants will not suffer too much if you dig them up and replant during the wet season. If you break any roots, use pruners to make a clean cut.

Here's more information about transplanting established trees

Weston Miller Replied October 26, 2020, 4:12 PM EDT

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