Q: We are about to have our new home landscaped. We have been advised to bring in alot of topsoil to replace some of the soil we now have. Is that really necessary?
A: Construction work often results in poor ground near new homes. Subsoil has been mixed with topsoil, topsoil has frequently been removed altogether, and much soil had been badly adulterated with such building debris as bits of stucco, brick, wire, nails and wood.
Such soil is not really soil at all, at least in the sense of being good for growing trees, shrubs and flowers. It is almost devoid of mineral nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth. More often than not, it lack's good air-moisture relationships, has poor structure and texture, and drainage is inadequate. Sometimes the soil retains so much moisture that plant roots drown during the first heavy rain.
The first step is to find out what kind of soil you have and whether it can be improved to a satisfactory level to grow the plants you want. Try to get someone who is qualified to make that determination for you.
Q: When I was young we had a wonderful sweet cherry tree that gave us lots of fruits. I don't see them anymore now. Is there something wrong with trying to grow them?
A: The problems with sweet cherries are that they bloom early and flowersmay be killed by cold weather, two varieties are needed for pollination, and if the fruit ripens the birds will get most of it.