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July 05, 2006

Changing level of soil around Ginkgo

I have a 30-year-old male ginkgo tree, growing in the parkway--the space between a public sidewalk and the street. There has never been much open ground space (not covered by street and sidewalk, and I haven't made much of a point of watering it, yet it has thrived and is now about 40 or so feet tall. Before now, the ground level was the same height as the sidewalk. I built a little retaining wall about 10 or 11 inches high, and filled it up with good soil, and have begun to plant things.
The possible problem:
I was informed, and confirmed it on the web, that I might kill the tree due to changing the level of soil around the tree, and/or by putting the new ten inches of soil against the bark of the tree. It is said that this might keep enough water and air from getting to the smaller roots that are closer to the top. they say it could take several years, but it will, or might, eventually kill the tree.I found a list of trees that are particularly sensitive to this particular sin, and a list that are hardier for this and would more likely not be so affected by it. The ginkgo was not listed in either group.I don't want to remove the planter. I could remove some soil from around the trunk by, say, 18 inches. But would that be enough to help? Is it necessary in the first place?

How hardy is the male ginkgo? How susceptible is it to changes in environment? Is it a touchy, high-strung tree, or is it a robust bully of sorts? I'd really like to gamble on just leaving things as they now are, if it is a reasonable risk. On the other hand, I don't want to lose this beautiful tree, and would go through some reasonable amount of additional back-breaking work, if there was a reasonable chance of losing the tree by not doing penance for this, my terrible sin.

Topic by Larry Hallock


At 6/14/2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh, I don't know really, but I would remove the soil. That is a lot of soil. I would guess due to how the gingko chi-chi come up and are important in the life cycle, that the roots likely will not handle this well.
That is a magnificent sounding tree.

At 6/08/2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure when you posted the comment, nor if you have found an answer, but as a long time fan of all things gingko, I've learned that the gingko is a very hearty and strong fellow. (So is the female, but I digress).

Just to be sure of the amount of abuse he can handle, why not call your local county extension agent? A well reputed arborist would also likely have a trusted answer for you.

I have a couple of gingkos - one in a pot and one that I planted outside in the backyard. When I moved from one house to another, I dug up the one in the yard and transplanted it. It is thriving.

They are wonderful trees.


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