Trees for clay

Asked April 7, 2017, 10:09 PM EDT

We live in Plymouth Township. Our yard is mostly clay, but is on a hill so there is good drainage. The hill gets quite dry and needs trees. Can you recommend some evergreens for a hilltop, fast growing shade trees for dry hillside, and medium (15-30ft tall) trees for closer to patio & house ? Is there an easy way to find if our soil is more acidic or alkaline that I can do here, without mailing in the more extensive sample? Thank you!!

Wayne County Michigan tree selection

1 Response

Let's start with the way to find out if soil is more acidic or alkaline. You can go to your local garden center and purchase a pH test kit for soils and do your own pH test which should give you fairly accurate results if you follow the directions carefully. You can also see if your local garden center is offering to do soil tests at their location and have a standard soil test done, which should also give you a pH reading. Your other option is to purchase a self-mailer soil test from MSUE and get accurate nutrient level readings, your soil pH, and fertilizer recommendations for what you are growing. For and MSU Soil Test kit you can contact your local Extension office to see if they have them in stock, or go to the MSUE store website to order one at:

For choosing trees for your clay soil and dry hillside conditions, I am providing some links to information from the University of Minnesota Extension. The first link lists trees suitable for clay soils, the second link trees for dry soil conditions. They are all suitable for Michigan. You can cross reference and see what is most likely to meet your needs and growing conditions.

Clay soil:

Dry soil: