Fall is ideal season for planting

Plant Trees and Shrubs Now

Fall is an excellent time to plant new trees and shrubs in the landscape. There are several advantages to fall planting, so take advantage of this season to get a jump on the numerous spring landscape chores.

Fall weather with the cooler temperatures and warm soil conditions make plant establishment close to ideal. Even though trees and shrubs may appear dormant after the first frost of the season, there is still growth occurring internally in the plant and in the soil.  This is the growth that can help speed up the long-term establishment of the plant.

Soils are still warm from summer weather and as a result, the network of underground roots continues to develop. In most years, roots can grow until around Thanksgiving time.

Planting treeFall root development gives the plant a “leg up,” so to speak, over spring planted ornamentals when dealing with summer stress. Timely watering will still be needed during dry periods next summer; but more roots make for a healthier plant.

Another advantage of fall planting can be found at your local garden center. Looking for fall color? What better way to see this aspect of the plant than when it is putting on its fall show. Keep in mind fall color can vary from year to year, but at least you will see the potential.

Garden centers often have plant sales in the fall. They like to reduce their inventory during the winter to decrease the work load. A markdown will help stretch your gardening dollars that much further.

There are a few keys to success in the fall. The method of planting is the same as in the spring. Plant at the same depth as it is growing in the field nursery or the container. Be sure to remove all containers and ropes supporting the root ball. Dig an ample size hole as wide as possible and avoid digging too deep as this causes the plant to settle.

Thoroughly water the newly planted stock to help settle the soil and get it off to a good start. Soils dry more slowly during the fall and winter months. Check the root ball throughout the entire season and water when dry. Winter watering may be done anytime that the ground is not frozen and the temperature is above freezing.

Trees that have light colored bark or areas that may be prone to rabbits feeding on the tender twigs and trunks should be protected.  Tree wrap products should be placed around the trunks of young trees. Shrubs that might become a meal for a rabbit are best protected with a ring of chicken wire. These prevention methods can be removed come spring.

Take advantage of the fall season and add that much needed shade tree to the yard, or a small flowering tree to spice up the back corner. Give your home a face-lift with some new shrubs, as now is the time to make this worthwhile investment.

From:  Dennis L. Patton, Johnson County Extension Agent, Horticulture



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