There’s something festive about the changing of leaves and cinnamon spice that loom the air. The cooler weather is perfect for fall planting because the trees are better able to retain moisture.
Despite the cold, as long as you’re able to stick a spade in the ground, it’s okay to plant your trees. They will stay dormant through the season and bud in the spring. In Fact, the roots will have more time to establish themselves, allowing them to bloom more lavishly and acclimate to the warmer weather easier. Plants with an established root system better withstand heat and wind the following summer.
Additionally, Pests and diseases are less likely to inflict trees in the cooler weather. Fall is also great for pruning older trees since most of the branches will be leaf-free.
Here’s a few helpful things to know when planting in the fall:
- If you’re not able to plant immediately don’t worry, you can store your trees in a cool, dry place for up to five days. The garage or basement are perfect.
- If you know you won’t be able to plant your trees within a week, then consider heeling in your trees. Better yet, be proactive and pre-dig your holes before the cooler weather sets in. Store the dirt you removed from the holes in a garage or tool shed to prevent it from hardening and becoming more difficult to work with when it comes time to planting.
- When planting in the fall it’s important to use mulch around your trees to reduce the possibility of freezing and thawing that can lead to frost heaving. Mulch has multiple benefits including preventing evaporation, water runoff, improving water penetration to the root zones and limits weed growth that may also compete for water. A two to three inch layer is most effective.
- Avoid planting in pots, unless it is a last resort. If you are planting in a pot for the season and intend to transplant it in the spring, be sure to keep the pot indoors or in the garage.
- One thing to note is that when you do transplant in the spring it will be important to slowly reintroduce the plants to outdoor conditions by leaving them in the pots before transplanting into the ground.
- Snow on the ground does not mean your soil is frozen. In order to freeze, your day time low temperature has to stay below 32°F for 4-6 weeks.
The fall is a wonderful time to plant because the weather is cool and ground isn’t wet. Fall planting might sound frightening at first because of the winter months the trees have to withstand, but they’ll be in a dormant state and shouldn’t be affected. It’s also great for pruning older trees since most of the branches will be leaf-free. Check out our Tree Planting Guide for step by step instructions on planting your tree.
What trees will you be planting this fall?
Arbor Day Foundation article originally appeared here.