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Bay tree struggling

Hi, we have 4 mature 2-3m high bay trees, all positioned symmetrically in 4 separate borders of our garden.  They were planted 2 years ago but the 1 tree in our front border has been losing its leaves over the past 6-8 months, and it is looking quite bare.  The soil in the garden is very heavy clay and I'm wondering if that is a possible cause.  (I've also lost 3 small lavender bushes and five convolvulus in the same border.)  I've tried top dressing the soil and I've also tried blood fish and bonemeal to see if it's lacking nutrients.  I'd really appreciate any help with the problem as its very sad to see the tree not flourishing or possibly even dying. 


  • B3B3 Posts: 27,346
    Have you been watering the bed? 
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • The bed is generally quite wet as we do have a fair amount of rain here.  Also, if the lawn does need watering, as has happened recently, the fall of the garden means that water does drain down into the border. 
  • B3B3 Posts: 27,346
    Is it maybe too wet then?
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • That was something was thinking, water along with clay soil.  Not sure what best option is now, having top dressed it and also included a substantial amount of grit.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Planting in shrubs that are 2 meters in height means they are fairly sizable plants, and normally, the larger the plant the longer it will take for them to establish. Results can be unpredictable, even with identical treatment. You can only hope for the best.

    Clay-based soils are fine so long as it has been broken up and mixed with further compost. The roots of such a large plant may take a long time to venture out into the surrounding soil, so your shrubs may still be trying to establish. Keep on top of watering over the summer, they will need a lot of watering.

    Lavenders and Convolvulus plants dying can be a range of reasons. If you have lost them over the winter, it's very likely due to wet and heavy soil conditions, and that may be your issue. If they died during the summer or autumn months, they may have not had enough water. If you have clay soil and you want to grow these two plants, you need to add more grit and also lay bark mulch or composted bark on top to keep the top layer dry during wet weather. Both plants do not like prolonged wet around the base.
  • Thanks very much for the really helpful advice from both replies to my enquiry.  Will definitely add more grit and mulch to help during warmer weather.  
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