Trees for Rocky Soils

whaas_5a(5A SE WI)November 10, 2010

I've moved from clay soil to a soil that is somewhat sandy but has a ton of field stone (2" to 1' in diameter is common. 2', 3', 4' and 5' boulders do show up).

I took my Paperbark Maple from my previous home and I would say the 3'x12" deep hole I dug was 30% rock.

I've heard three schools of thought.

Which would you tend to agree with?

1)The field stone is not of concern. You need to select trees that prefer good drainage and aren't sensative to drought.


2) You need to select trees with far reaching root systems so they can easily go around the rocks. Likely need to stay away from trees with fiberous roots.


3) Stick to native trees that are growing in your area with similar exposure and degree of slope.

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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

You might find some here.

Seriously, I wouldn't be concerned anywhere in SE Wisconsin. There's enough soil between the rocks to not be a factor.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 5:50PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes, it's what's between the rocks that matters. That said, it is desirable to keep rocks out of the planting hole when first putting the tree in the ground.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 7:56PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

No concerns with conifers/pines...I know they can thrive in quite rocky conditions and they love drainage. Those pics definitely put it into perspective!

I'm in the hills of Slinger here the glaciers left massive stones. I'll just plant away and go from there!

This time I'm starting with conifers/pines! Deciduous trees/shrubs will go in later.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 9:23AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

see link ...

trees .. and most conifers.. climb mountains.. and if that aint rocky soil .... i dont know what is ..

they also grow in cracks in cement .. in asphalt parking lots .... you name it ...

the ONLY potential issue.. as far as i am concerned is whether or not is so friable.. that they would need staking to get the roots to grab hold ... so that a large transplant doesnt flop over ....

heck.. trees even grow in cracks in rocks ... copy/paste this:


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 9:48AM
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I would go with a native tree called sassafras. This tree is really incredible and hardy. There is a mountain near me where topsoil is absent on most of the mounain side. This was caused by pollution. All trees except sassafras survived and today there are a whole bunch of sassafras trees growing out of crevices in rocks. The roots of the tree are very shallow and spread out horizontally.The trees leaves smell like fruit loops when crushed and the roots were once a component in the making of rootbeer.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 3:11PM
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