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Question regarding planting trees on their side.

 
Bruce Drukker
Posts: 23
Location: Fallbrook, CA (San Diego County) Zone 10a
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So I have a fairly steep, south facing slope that plateaus at the top. A bit like a Mesa. I would like to plant trees on the slope and reserve the plateau for hugel beds, shrubs and bushes. My concern is that as they mature, particularly those towards the top, they will produce unwanted shade onto my beds. I am toying with the idea of planting them on their side so that the trunks would be horizontal. I would prepare a mound of good soil, maybe 4' in diameter and about a foot high, pop the rootball onto that and then cover with another foot or so of soil, then plenty of mulch. I would probably loop some twine 18" or so from the top and stake it down.

My vision is that all of those horizontal branches including the top 18" would start to grow vertically towards the sun, each one acting like a mini tree. Am I missing something glaringly obvious, or is this feasible? I haven't quite decided on the varieties yet, but I would like a nice polyculture of fruit and possibly nut trees. They are not quite whips, but none are more than 5' tall. This not for the entire hillside mind you, but just for the top section. Any insights would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading
 
Patrick Mann
Posts: 302
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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I think that would work - something similar is done in espalier, where trees are planted at an angle (oblique cordon). Not sure about nut trees, but it should work for fruit trees.
 
Bruce Drukker
Posts: 23
Location: Fallbrook, CA (San Diego County) Zone 10a
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Patrick Mann wrote:I think that would work - something similar is done in espalier, where trees are planted at an angle (oblique cordon). Not sure about nut trees, but it should work for fruit trees.


Right, that's what I was hoping for. I see it as a type of hedge. Peaches and plums and maybe some tangerines!
 
Don Eggleston
Posts: 39
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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Would the trunks be touching the ground along their length? If so, do you expect them to root along the length? I also have a south facing slope, and this would create sort of swales that would slow drainage also.

Seems like a great idea to me.

Don Eggleston
 
David Rea
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Location: Mayne Island, BC
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Last year, I attended a seminar put on by a professional tree pruner. He described a planting method very similar to what you are describing. Apparently, what happens is the the most vertical branches become the new "top" of the tree, and the original top becomes more of a branch. You would probably still have to prune the top of the tree in order to prevent shading of your mesa.
 
Bruce Drukker
Posts: 23
Location: Fallbrook, CA (San Diego County) Zone 10a
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Don Eggleston wrote:Would the trunks be touching the ground along their length? If so, do you expect them to root along the length?

Don Eggleston


I never actually thought of that nor do I know if it would work. My original intention was to elevate the trunks about about a foot off the ground by plopping the root ball onto a mound. I'm not sure about the swale effect, but perhaps if they were planted this way onto a berm, it could be interesting.
 
Bruce Drukker
Posts: 23
Location: Fallbrook, CA (San Diego County) Zone 10a
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David Rea wrote:Last year, I attended a seminar put on by a professional tree pruner. He described a planting method very similar to what you are describing. Apparently, what happens is the the most vertical branches become the new "top" of the tree, and the original top becomes more of a branch. You would probably still have to prune the top of the tree in order to prevent shading of your mesa.


This is exactly what I want! I think I would plant them low enough on the slope that their height at maturity would be more or less even with the mesa. Strangely, there is a kind of terracing towards the top that I think would be a good place to grow some table grapes. I don't believe that they get very tall. Thanks for the input!
 
wayne stephen
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Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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Had you thought about doing a traditional step-over espalier which would allow the root ball to grow firmly and naturally ? This would give you the best of both worlds - horizontal growth { or parallel to the ground } and allow the tree roots to do their thing . The roots on the upward facing side are going to want to go up - or sideways to the tree . Swales and berms with the espalier on contour ? Why not grapes on slope - on contour - and trees on the mesa ?
 
Bruce Drukker
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Location: Fallbrook, CA (San Diego County) Zone 10a
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wayne stephen wrote:Had you thought about doing a traditional step-over espalier which would allow the root ball to grow firmly and naturally ? This would give you the best of both worlds - horizontal growth { or parallel to the ground } and allow the tree roots to do their thing . The roots on the upward facing side are going to want to go up - or sideways to the tree . Swales and berms with the espalier on contour ? Why not grapes on slope - on contour - and trees on the mesa ?


Hey Wayne, those are all excellent ideas, thanks for taking the the time! I am gravitating towards grapes the more I think about it. I've always wanted some and that south facing slope would be perfect! I'll put my crazy tree idea on hold for now. I like to think outside the box!
 
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