Fruit and nut trees are beneficial additions as edible landscaping for their delicious harvest, shade factor and aesthetic beauty. However, most fruit and nut trees require rich, well-drained soil. For those in regions with more dense, claylike soil, you may be limited in the variety of crops you can grow but there are still a handful of fruit and nut trees that will thrive in clay soil.
Apple trees need lots of moisture, so growing in clay soil isn't a big problem for these trees. If grown in clay soils, reduce watering to only when the soil is starting to feel dry on top. You want the soil to be consistently moist but not waterlogged. Be sure to choose an apple tree variety that is not only good for your region but also the best possible for clay soil. Apple trees also need partial to full sunshine. When selecting apple trees, choose a transplant from a reputable nursery.
Black Walnut Trees
Black walnut trees are easy to grow with little maintenance. While they are beautiful aesthetically and the hardwood is attractive, these trees produce a toxic substance that kills most plants that grow within a 50 to 60 foot radius of the trees' trunk. Plants that can grow near a black walnut tree include Japanese maple, honeysuckle, Rose of Sharon, black raspberry, marigolds, squash, beans, carrots, peach and cherry trees, and peony, to name just a handful. Black walnut trees can grow up to hundreds of years old, can easily tolerate clay soils with a pH over 7 and grow best in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
The delicate, compact plum tree is a very beneficial choice for gardeners with clay soil. These fruit trees require some of the least maintenance in the fruit tree family, and one tree can provide many bushels of plums per year. Plum trees can adapt to well-drained or clay soil. However, upon planting, it is smart to break up the clay soil as much as possible and plant the tree on a slope so at least some of the water can runoff from rainfall. It is important to recognise that plum trees usually need at least two planted varieties to ensure pollination. There are plum tree varieties suitable for zones 1 to 7.