Clay soil question

I live in a small rental house with a small garden in Sunset zone 22-23. I hae filled all the beds with flowers. I usually have no problem growing anything but now am stumped. The ground here is heavy clay. I am on teh side of a hill so it tends to be wet clay from people higher on the hill watering. In the raised beds and planters no problem, but I have been trying for years now to grow a small tree.
For the first tree, I dug a decent hole about 2-3 feet deep and 3 feet wide. I used compost and mulch and all. It (a Meyer Lemon) drowned. The second tree I dug the hole deeper and used more compost. It drowned. The 3rd tree - a Mimosa seems to be officially dead. The hole has standing water. It smells sour and mildewy. Did I mention this is Los Angeles? The desert? I know there is no issue of underground wells, broken pipes, etc just there is an orchard up the hill from me and all the water drains down and puddles in my back yard. Plus I water a lot as I have roses, jasmine, fucshias, begonias, impatiens and all kinds of water looving flowers.
So if I dig another hole - like 6 feet deep and fill it with gravel? compost? planting soil? what? Can I then plant another mimosa and hope it won't jsut drown as I have improved the drainage?
Any ideas? Hilda
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On 12 Mar 2006 05:50:28 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@despammed.com wrote:

My idea would to not use any material other than the clay you dug out of the hole, then you won't be building a tub that will trap water. Throw in some gypsum if you like, it is said to release the clay somewhat. I'm up in Ventura county, the ranchers here who grow citrus don't amend the soil when they plant. If anything, you could mound the soil a bit to keep water from running into the planted area, too much water kills citrus.
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Maybe you should build a berm and plant a tree on it.
--

Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8
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I'm not familiar enough with conditions in your part of the country to recommend a specific tree. However, perhaps you could inquire at your local nursery about water loving trees and trees that tolerate clay. In this part of the country, willows, poplars, service berry (my favorite and seems to grow under almost all conditions), and cottonwood come to mind. There are probably others.

side
trying
wide.
tree -

smells
in
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You may need to put in a drain (perforated plastic pipe) to carry off the excess water. Compost and gypsum will help. Raise the soil level before you plant--do not raise the tree above the soil line. When you dig the tree hole, make it with corners (can be square) to send the roots outward instead of growing round and round. A young tree will acclimatize better than an older one.
On 12 Mar 2006 05:50:28 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@despammed.com wrote:

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A hill will drain better than a hole.
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i suggest powdered dolomite: it's CHEAP and it does WONDERFULLY as an "easy & fast" amendment for clay soils; and also, in the meantime, get a compost tumbler or make your own compost heap---coffee grinds, egg shells (make sure you wash the inside of the shells so there's no albumen or yolk still within), broccoli ends, zucchini ends (where does this all END?)...etc. grass clippings, dead leaves (but avoid oak leaves as much as possible---too much tannic acid to make good compost)....put in HOT, BRIGHT area, toss and tumble (with pitchfork, or if you like to play in the dirt, your fingers) ;o)
--
With Malus toward none, and Cherry-Trees toward all.
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side
trying
wide.
tree -

smells
in
Don't dig a hole at all, it will just become a swimming pool for your tree - and most trees don't swim. Build up a mound and plant in that. For a lemon make the mound about 4-5ft across and 12-18in high. By the time the tree has outgrown the mound it should be sending its roots down through the clay. Mulch the mound well as in hot or dry weather they tend to dry out quickly.
David
David
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