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Wet ground fruit tree

 
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I want to plant 3 or 4 fruit trees between my house and a road. Unfortunately there is quite a slope from the road down to my yard. It tends to stay pretty damp. I want fruit trees but I dont want to waste my time for money. I have read that Asian pears can handle wet ground pretty well. I am in Northern WV. My main purpose of planting here is to create a little screen for privacy from the road. I could do willow or poplar, but wanted to see if I could do fruit to add to my small orchard. Thanks for any info
 
pollinator
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Stephen Cummings wrote:I want to plant 3 or 4 fruit trees between my house and a road. Unfortunately there is quite a slope from the road down to my yard. It tends to stay pretty damp. I want fruit trees but I dont want to waste my time for money. I have read that Asian pears can handle wet ground pretty well. I am in Northern WV. My main purpose of planting here is to create a little screen for privacy from the road. I could do willow or poplar, but wanted to see if I could do fruit to add to my small orchard. Thanks for any info



How good are you at plant identification?

If you are - pay attention to what's around you.

I'd say I'd try a few things that you might find around you already...

...elderberries growing in ditches (possible transplanting?)

As far as what will tolerate wet feet - just remember to plant things as high.

Consider planting willow and poplar behind for screen and height...

...and supplement below with fruit trees that will also benefit from their shade.
 
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Elderberries are a great idea, as they like damp ground.  That was a really good suggestion above.  Elderberries make great jam and wine, of course.

Part of my garden in Oregon was a bog. An actual bog - water all year-round.  Somehow, a plum tree had grown in the middle of it.  It flowered -but never fruited - and after 30 years it was leaning heavily to one side.

That tree inspired me to pay attention to rootstocks, and I learned that the Marriana rootstock (which Burnt Ridge Nursery sells ans uses for their plums) can handle wetter ground than some others.  Marriana rootstock for plums, apricots, and almonds at Burnt Ridge Nursery  So plums might work.

In the end, though, we planted persimmons right next to the pond area - a spot where they were sitting in water.  Digging the hole for them, it filled with water - THAT wet.  They did well and seem to have quite a tolerance for wet feet.

We also grew strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in that boggy garden.  The strawberries really loved it there.

 
Stephen Cummings
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I have lots of willow and poplar growing on my property. I have them lining 2 creek and even though they are still young and small they have helped dry up those areas and helped some with erosion. I was mainly interested in trees to also act as a screen from the road which is about 10 to 12 feet higher than the rest of my property. I hoped to find a fruit tree so I could at least get a little fruit in addition to my current trees. I will definitely look into those plums
 
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mayhaws like it wet, and some varieties like superspur make great jell and are cold hardy

 
pollinator
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Stephen Cummings wrote:I want to plant 3 or 4 fruit trees between my house and a road. Unfortunately there is quite a slope from the road down to my yard. It tends to stay pretty damp. I want fruit trees but I dont want to waste my time for money. I have read that Asian pears can handle wet ground pretty well. I am in Northern WV. My main purpose of planting here is to create a little screen for privacy from the road. I could do willow or poplar, but wanted to see if I could do fruit to add to my small orchard. Thanks for any info



In my own mini-orchard, parts of it become a river and flood twice yearly, keeping the ground incredibly muddy for two weeks after each flooding. I'm talking eight inches of water for 72 hours.

I've lost multiple trees that way, but it seems to me, the worst affected were cherries, nectarines, and apricots.
My apples, peaches, pears, and plums, survived, though some in the worst spots had stunted growth.

My solution, for my area, was to raise up the trees in small "garden beds". 2 1/2 ft by 2 1/2 ft squares, 10" tall (e.g. a ten foot long 2x10 ACQ, cut into four quarters, and screwed into a square). This helped elevate them enough that they do much better surviving flooding, keeping their rootball from drowning.
Some of my area was fine enough that I didn't need the wooden boxes, and instead used dirt clods to form circles instead, which I filled with dirt, creating small 6" high mounds. If you have some large rocks, or dirt clods, or (even better) some logs you could stake into place which will eventually rot and improve the soil, that seems like it'd work well for you.

But honestly, if it's on a slope, and you've never observed it flooded with water, just damp (from morning mist, maybe?), you'll probably be fine with apples/peaches/pears/plums (assuming you choose varieties that work for your USDA zone).

Maybe you should go out on a day you consider the ground "pretty damp", dig down with a shovel, and see how far until you hit water? If you dig a hole in a place where you want to plant a tree, and you'll save yourself some later digging. =D

 
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I have a seasonally wet property and here is what I've found.

Bigger trees (standards and semi dwarf) tend to do better.

Rootstock makes a huge difference. Quince, hawthorn,  and Pacific crabapple are all excellent for this kind of thing. The first two can usually take pear grafts, quince, medlar,  and edible hawthorn.  The latter is for apples and literally grows in swamps. I recommend buying the rootstock now and planting it then budding onto it in years to come

Aronia, elderberry,  June, highbush cranberries,  and American persimmon can all do well. For nut trees black walnut,  heartnut,  and buartnut are good. Butternut suffers from canker in the Northeast. I bet Currants  and gooseberries could potentially do okay.  

They may be sold out, but burnt ridge is usually a good source for all these.

Plant on mounds. Make sure the mounds are fairly level on top so the water sinks in. Be mindful of controlling for voles and mice from the beginning.  I know of a woman in Georgia who grows peaches in a swamp but in mounds.

 
pollinator
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I put an orchard in a place that flooded for a few weeks during the growing season with the result being just about every plum, peach, apricot, and apple dying. About 1/3rd of the pears survived (mainly those in higher areas). The persimmons did a bit better, and the pawpaws did the best. I found out that pawpaws tend to grow along river banks, so that result was unsurprising in hindsight.
 
pollinator
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Making a bit of a mound helps a lot. Maybe 4’ circle or square  8” high. I have one that is a round mound about 6’’ diameter. On top of this is a 2x4 square 4’ x 4’. Apple tree in the middle. 2 layers of strawberry plants.

The apple tree was there a few years before the mound. It was very unhealthy. I built the mound early last summer. By fall the tree was healthy. Strawberries look great.

Building the mound before planting would be much better.
 
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James mentioned American Persimmon, and I second that.  They grow naturally in a lot of places, but most often near streams.  And they handle seasonal flooding with aplomb.  They just don't seem to mind wet feet as long as it isn't year around.  (Or, maybe even if it is wet year around; I know of one very productive tree growing less than four feet from the edge of a lake, literally dropping the fruit from its branches onto a shore-attached beaver-mound home. )
 
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