How to Prepare the Soil for Apple Trees


Apple trees are grown widely all over the world for their fruit. Many apple tree varieties are hardy to zone 3, so they can be grown in many climates all over the United States. If you want to grow apple trees in your own garden, keep a few things in mind. First, choose a variety of apple tree that will grow well in your area. Next, prepare your soil for planting apple trees.

Step 1

Prepare your soil for apple trees about a month or two before you actually plant the trees.

Step 2

Test your soil's pH. Apples grow best in slightly acidic soil. Add lime to decrease the acidity of soil. Work the lime in to a depth of about 4 feet. If your soil is too alkaline, add sulfur to make the soil more acidic. Work the sulfur into a depth of about 1 or 2 feet.

Step 3

Test your soil's drainage. If water stands on the soil for longer than 24 hours, you have bad soil drainage. Add sand to improve your drainage. (ref 1) Work the sand into a depth of about 4 feet. Plant on a hill to increase good drainage even more.

Step 4

Remove any large rocks from the soil with the rake. Break up the soil until it is crumbly. (ref 2)

Step 5

Add organic material to your soil. Add compost or manure. Add about 10 lbs. of manure or compost per 3 square feet.

Step 6

Work the manure or compost into an area surrounding where you want to plant the apples (about 6 feet in diameter and 2 to 3 feet deep per tree).

Step 7

Add a layer of high-quality topsoil over the tilled land. Make sure the topsoil layer is 3 to 4 inches deep.

Tips and Warnings

  • If the land in which you are going to plant your apples was previously fertilized, avoiding fertilizing it. It may burn the apple trees' roots or promote too much growth. (ref 2)

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost or manure
  • Rake
  • High-quality topsoil


  • Guide to Care and Planting of Fruit Trees
  • How to Plant Apple Trees
  • Soil Acidity

Who Can Help

  • Preparing Garden Soil
Keywords: Preparing soil for apple trees, Prepare soil for apple trees, apple trees

About this Author

Hollan Johnson is a freelance writer and contributing editor for many online publications. She has been writing professionally since 2008 and her interests are travel, gardening, sewing and Mac computers. Prior to freelance writing, Johnson taught English in Japan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.