Fall Is Tree Planting Season

Fall Is Tree Planting Season

It's perhaps one of the best kept gardening secrets around: fall is the best time to plant trees. Planting trees in the fall allows them to establish a root system before enduring the scorching heat of the summer. When the summer heat finally does arrive, the fall planted tree will have already established a good root system.

Fall officially begins on the autumn equinox in September. The exact date varies from year to year. However, fall temperatures may arrive in your area a bit sooner than or later than the equinox. The best time to plant trees is about six weeks before the first hard frost of the year. Planting trees any later than this is not recommended as the cold can also affect the tree.

The date of the first hard frost will vary depending on your location. If you are unsure of when the first hard frost will happen in your area, check a growing zone map or ask at your local cooperative extension office. A hard frost is defined as a frost where both the air and the ground freeze. In order for a hard freeze to occur, the air temperature must be below 28 degrees for more than 4 hours consecutively.

Trees planted in the fall usually don't need to be watered as much as trees planted in spring. This is because of the cooler temperatures and also because the tree's growth will slow as the days get shorter. During the fall, the soil is still warm and the air temperature is relatively stable. This combination is also perfect for stimulating root growth.

Depending where you purchase your tree, you may find bare-root trees, container- grown trees, or trees with roots wrapped in burlap. Each type of tree will require a different planting procedure for best results.

Bare root trees are trees that have been grown in a field and dug up in either the fall or the spring. Trees that have been dug in the fall can be sold right away, or they might be stored with their roots packed in material to keep them moist. There can be some root loss when trees are stored in this manner, but it is an inexpensive way to store and ship trees. This gives customers a wide variety of choices of trees at economical prices. Because customers can see the roots, the can also assess the health of the tree.

Trees that are grown in containers are also economical to buy. If the tree spends too much time in the container, its root system can become root bound. When this happens, the roots are thick and tangled and fill the container. In some cases, the roots can become diseased or damaged; if this happens root bound trees can have problems later on when planted. When purchasing a container grown tree, slide the tree out of the container and check the root system before making the purchase. Also, to ensure that the tree is as healthy as possible, do not purchase any tree that is more than 4 times as tall as the height of its container.

Burlap Wrapped Root BallBalled trees are trees that have been dug from the soil and had their roots wrapped in burlap. Usually, these trees have been planted in heavy, clay soil and can experience root loss if the soil is removed. Because clay soil is so heavy, the cost to ship the trees is simply not economical. For that reason, balled trees are sold on location at nurseries and tree farms. Tree selection is usually limited for this reason and the trees may cost a bit more than bare root trees or container grown trees.

For best results, avoid planting broad leafed evergreens in the fall like rhododendrons, azaleas, hollies and boxwoods. The best trees to plant in the fall include maple, spruce, pine, elm, and horse chestnut.


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