Soil compaction poses a threat to the productivity of South African commercial eucalypt plantations. The impact of compaction on dolerite- and aeolian- derived soils is well understood; however, there is no available information for sandstone-derived soils. In addition, the impact of leaving harvest residues or ripping these soils to reduce the degree of compaction is not fully understood. A trial was planted to Eucalyptus dunnii cuttings to investigate the effect of soil compaction, amelioration using a ripper and broadcast and burning of harvest residues on early tree growth, stocking and uniformity. Three levels of compaction were tested; no compaction, high compaction and high compaction plus ripping. In addition, two harvest residues treatments were tested; broadcast and burn, in a factorial trial design. Compaction had no significant (p > 0.05) effect on tree growth at 32 months after planting. Soil ripping did not improve early tree growth. Retaining harvest residues resulted in better early tree growth compared to burnt treatments. The lack of significant compaction effects on early tree growth under tested soil suggests that these soils are resilient to increases in soil bulk density.