There was an interesting feature in a recent issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, describing how plants and trees in new developments don’t grow very well. The culprit- the construction process. Typically, when new homes are built, the builder scrapes the site clean of topsoil during cleaning and grading. Even if new soil is added to the site later, it often does not replicate the endemic soil. Often in new developments, especially in our area, the housing isn’t build on the greatest soil to begin with (the California Central Valley, doesn’t have this problem, but that raises a whole slate of other issues).
Add to the soil factor the fact that builders typically don’t do a great job installing shrubs and trees for new houses, and the problem is compounded further. Still sometimes trees do grow well. In one new development where we are currently working, there are some beautiful Sycamore trees that are about 5 years old and 25-30′ tall. This issue underscores the fact of the importance of soil preparation when installing plantings, especially in new developments.