Definition of well-drained soil and other things

Asked September 1, 2019, 9:09 PM EDT


I have typical Colorado soil, based on your having provided a report to me after I followed your instructions for submitting a soil sample from my yard 6 years ago when I bought my house. The back yard was empty of any plants except grass.

I wanted a yard filled with bushes, trees, ground cover, and flowers, with one small area of grass. I asked a man at the Tree Farm outside Longmont to evaluate my results so he could guide me in the best selection of these items and he reviewed your report and summarized it by saying I have typical Colorado soil.

I've planted many plants since having that soil evaluation done and most of them have thrived in my Northglenn yard. However, a few have died for unknown reasons. One was a Maple tree that I asked you about and you said Maples don't do well in this area. (I gave the actual type Maple in my email but I don't recall. It may have been Autumn Blaze. ) Another plant that died was a Burning Bush. I planted two at the same time. One is thriving; it is in part sun/shade. The one that died was in full sun. But other than that, there was no apparent reason the one died. So all this brings me to the question in my subject line. What is well-drained soil? Could it have been a factor in the two deaths? Finally, I have now had a volunteer Maple growing in another part of my yard, not near the one that died. I don't know what type it is but I do have a Silver Maple in my front yard that is 55 years old and doing very well, so perhaps that's where the seed came from. The small Maple is not in an optimum spot so I want to transplant it this fall. It's about 4.5 feet tall. Can you provide advice for how to prepare the soil and what location might be best for me to move it to? (i.e., full sun, or any other things that might ensure it's success and long life.)

Thank you,

Adams County Colorado

1 Response

As far as moving the small maple tree, you might consider waiting till late winter or early spring. When you do, get as much of the root system as possible when digging it up. After that the most important thing you can do is to dig a proper planting hole. You can find detailed instructions here:

Two key points are, digging a planting hole which is at least 3x the width of the tree's root ball and making sure it is not too deep. You want the tree's first root to be about an inch above grade.

After planting it will be key to make sure the tree is watered appropriately. Generally speaking you will want to water the tree often with relatively small amounts of water.

On the burning bush, it’s really hard to say with any certainty without more information or having been able to see the plants but I suspect you are right and it has to do with planting location. Burning bushes can be grown in full sun but they definitely prefer a little shelter in our area. Soil conditions may have played a roll, again it’s hard to say. Normally the issue we run into in our area is that soil drains slowly making it easy to over water plants.

I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any further questions.