I am planting California privets at my home (4 blocks northeast of Hagedorn and Grand Rapids) and at 1' depth I'm running into heavy clay soil. How deep do the privet roots grow and will the clay present a drainage problem (soggy roots and mildew, etc)? Thank you for any help you can give. Stephen Childress
Ingham County Michigan
Privet will not have a problem in your soil. Privet is listed as one that tolerates clay and tolerates moist sites. Extremely wet soil is a problem, and I suspect your privet will mostly establish themselves in the soil above the clay, unless your clay isn’t always sopping wet. The majority of roots are in the top 18 inches of soil, less in smaller plants. Roots will grow more laterally than vertically.
When you plant the shrubs, do not dig a hole deeper than the soil in the pot or the root ball, so that the plant will not settle too low. The soil underneath the roots should be undisturbed. Plant the shrubs at the same depth they are growing in the pot or burlap ball, unless the plants have soil or mulch piled up against the stems.
Here is a reference with details of successful planting techniques, should you need it. This reference says to leave the burlap on the root ball but, it is now recommended to cut away as much of a natural burlap as you can without breaking the root ball apart.
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