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I want to limit growth of newly planted fruit trees and wonder if it would be possible to do that by making a large wooden box and planting each one in a box in the ground? Also if it would work to do that, do I need redwood? I have a stack of 4 x 12 x 16 douglas fir lumber which had been painted on one side and I wondered if I could use them to do this or will they create bug problems?
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By placing your fruit trees in a box, no matter how large you are severely restricting the space their roots have to grow in. This will not stop root growth but just force them to grow in another direction. They may grow down past the edge of the box and back up the other side, push apart the corners or work their way through small openings or they may even start growing in circles around the trunk of the tree which can lead to girdling roots where the tree actually strangles itself to death. Restricting root growth of the tree will decrease both the number and the quality of the fruit your tree can produce and shorten the lifespan of the tree. The best method of limiting the size of fruit trees is to choose a dwarf variety and by proper pruning. I have included a link to a document called "Pruning the Orchard" that gives specific examples of pruning methods for each type of fruit tree.
Any lumber used in your garden or around plants should not be treated with any chemicals that could leech into the soil and damage the plants.
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