Is Your Soil And Landscape Right For Your Tree?

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With us being a well known tree service company in Jeffersonville, IN we get asked tree questions all the time. We love to stay up to date on the latest and greatest. You can consider us somewhat of a tree nerds, but that is how it has to go when you are removing plants as large and old as trees. You can have a profound effect on the environment. We love to learn what we are dealing with. Today we took an excerpt from a book entitled: The Woodlot Management Handbook  Authored by: Stewart Hilts and Peter Mitchell

“Soils that are very coarse in texture, such as sands and gravels,

have large spaces between the individual mineral particles. Thus

water runs rapidly through such soils, and they tend to dry out

quickly. They also tend to be poor in nutrients, since nutrients

attach themselves to the smaller particles in the soil. Soils made up

of very fine particles, such as clay and silt, are packed together

densely with very few spaces between the mineral particles. Thus

water cannot run quickly, if at all, through these soils, and they

tend to be very wet, though they often have high nutrient levels.


The ideal soil for forest growth, just as in a garden, is a rich

loam. Loam is made up of a mixture of particle sizes, large enough

to drain well, but fine enough to maintain good nutrient quality

Over time, such loams also become enriched with organic matter,

further enhancing plant growth.

In a woodland, the best growth will be in well-drained

medium-textured loam soils. Very dry soils or very wet soils pro-

vide obvious limitations to tree growth. Soil depth can also be a

critical influence. In some parts of the northeast, we find bedrock

at the surface, with little or no soil at all. These extreme condi-

tions are an obvious limitation for plant growth, but in fact, some

types of bedrock, such as limestone, support other unique plant


Individual species of plants, including trees, are all adapted to

specific growing conditions. Sugar maple prefers a well-drained loam

soil, but black ash will grow in wet organic soils. Thus the first infiu-

ence on the woodland ecosystem is the mixture of soil types present.

MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS: Soil types will determine

the productivity of existing woodlands and will influence

the species you should choose for reforestation.


“Topography,” or the actual shape of the physical landscape, is

another important ecological influence. Slopes may be steep or

almost flat, and they may face any direction. The direction in which

A slope face is called its “aspect.” Altitude is also an important

influencing factor.

The hardwood-forest region of eastern North America has an

enormous range of topographic conditions, from areas near sea

level to the northern Appalachian Mountains, from flat glacial lake

beds to steep rocky cliffs. In between are thousands of square miles

of rolling hills and river valleys.

Perhaps most unusual are the plant communities that are

found in unique topographic locations. The best example is the

ancient cedar forest on the vertical limestone cliffs of the Niagara

Escarpment. Extending through New York State west to form

Niagara Falls, then extending northwest through Ontario, and

curving around the north side of Lake Michigan into Wisconsin,

The cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment provide a unique habitat. The

gnarled and twisted eastern white cedar that 2ow directly out of

crevices in these cliffs have been shown to be to a thousand

years old, by far the oldest trees in eastern North America.

Sometimes these trees actually hang down the cliffs from the ledge

where their roots have gained a foothold.

Much more commonly, forest communities are influenced by the

aspect of the slope on which they grow. Slopes facing south and west

tend to receive more sunlight and be warmer, while north- and east-

facing slopes are cooler and receive less sunlight. This may result in sig-

nificant differences between ecological communities. A good example

of this local temperature difference is the fact that all major ski hills in

this region of the continent are located on north- or east-facing slopes,

where the snow is less likely to melt in the direct sunlight.

Large slopes cause air to drain downwards; the movement of air

keeps overnight temperatures on slopes slightly warmer than either”

As you can see you must always be mindful of the soil and the layout of the land. Some areas trees or other large plants should not be started. Once they take root they may be costly to remove however they may live a short life due to the circumstances. 

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