Q: My house was built on hard red clay. The trees that have been planted are not surviving because water accumulates in the hole. How can I make the soil drain better?
A: Of course, you realize that now is a terrible time to plant trees. You should wait until September to even think about the process. In the mean time, you can begin accumulating the topsoil or compost or other materials you’ll need to add to the soil so you can plant your trees ON TOP of the clay. When fall comes, spade up the soil in an area ten feet wide and ten inches deep. Pour 18 cubic feet of topsoil or other material onto the soil and thoroughly mix it with the clay in the planting hole. The result will be a broad mound of good soil on top of your existing bad soil. You can plant a tree in the center of the mound and the roots will easily grow accustomed to their new home. Because the roots are above the clay, water will drain away from the roots and your trees will thrive.