Making the prepared soil deep and wide enough

As with so many other plants in your garden, fruit-bearing plants need ample space for their roots to develop. Sufficient soil both nourishes and anchors plants. Take measure of how extensive the root system is on planting day, and then go farther to allow for future growth.

For example, because strawberry plants generally send their roots 6 to 12 inches down, you should provide them with prepared soil that's at least that deep, with several more inches to spare. An apple or plum tree, on the other hand, may send roots many feet deep into the ground over the course of its career; you're not likely to be willing or able to excavate a major hole and have to count on the chosen spot having decent soil. Just give a young root-ball ample space. Usually, a hole 12 to 18 inches deep and wide does the trick. Remember to scrape the sides of the hole with your shovel or trowel to loosen the soil and thus help the roots expand beyond its bounds.

As for width, accommodate the rootball and then some. For a fruit tree, although you may not dig a hole that extends as far as the branches and roots may someday extend, you can spread amendments out that direction, mix them in, and leave them to work their way down gradually.

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