Dallas, Texas, is known for mild winters and hot summers. The climate, which falls within USDA Hardiness Zone 8, rarely falls below 10 degrees F in winter. Because of this, there are a wide variety of fruit trees that will grow well in Dallas. But the soil is very clay-like, and in order to get fruit trees to thrive, you must amend it heavily to overcome the poor drainage conditions clay soil presents.
Select a location for your fruit trees in full sun with good drainage.
Have your soil tested for pH level. Many fruit trees will do poorly unless they area grown in a pH of 6.5 to 7. Testing the soil will help you determine how to adjust its pH level. Testing your soil will also help you determine if there are any nutrient deficiencies. The Texas A&M University Soil, Water & Forage Testing Laboratory is maintained through the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service and is available to the public to test soil samples for a fee. Information on how to take core samples and submit them as well as prices for tests is available through the facility’s website.
Purchase amendments based on the results of the soil test. Amendments that you may purchase for your soil include gypsum to break up and aerate clay soil as well as organic materials such as compost, cottonseed hulls, well-rotted manure and straw. To adjust your soil’s pH, you may need to add sulfur to lower it or lime to raise it.
Break up the soil to a depth of 8 inches with a rototiller. Spread the amendments over the surface of the soil to a depth of 4 inches. Mix the amendments with the soil by passing the rototiller over them again. Amend a wide area around your tree’s location to encourage the tree to spread its roots.
Select tree species that are hearty to zone 8. Trees that are cold hearty to lower temperate zones may not survive heat stress from warm Dallas summers. Hybrid apples and pears that are heat tolerant, as well as peaches and other stone fruit trees such as apricots, plums and cherries are good varieties to plant.
Dig a hole for planting your tree that is twice as wide as the root ball, but no deeper than the roots. Never bury your tree deeper than it was planted in the nursery.
Place your tree next to the planting hole and unwrap it to preserve soil around the roots. Transfer the root ball to the planting hole gently and backfill with soil. Press around the roots with your heel gently to knock loose air pockets without compacting the soil or killing the roots.
Water your tree with an inch of water per week.
Spread up to 4 inches of mulch around the roots of your tree to choke out grass and weeds and hold in moisture. Do not allow mulch to mound up around the trunk of your tree. This can kill it.