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Why Fall is the Best Time to Plant Trees

Dan Forestry, This Land of Ours

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We all know the importance trees play to our planet. Cathy Isom lets us know why now is the time to get out and plant some trees. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.

Why Fall is the Best Time to Plant Trees
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Though it seems counter-intuitive to plant a young tree just before the seemingly harshest season, the reality is that winter is not the harshest season for the tree. Trees go dormant, essentially hibernating, in the winter, whereas in the summer, they fight the heat for survival.

Planting trees in the fall allows them enough time to settle in while the soil is cool and comfortable. The trees will get a good rest until springtime when it’s time to come out of hibernation naturally, getting a good growth spurt before summer starts to challenge them.

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The main rule for planting trees in the autumn is that it needs to be done before the ground freezes. Technically, there could be snow on the ground, and as long as the shovel will slide into the soil, planting is still possible. The ideal time would be a few weeks before freezing becomes routine and affects the ground. Waiting too late might inhibit root growth before dormancy.

Because trees are perennial plants, the majority of them will benefit from being planted in the fall. Deciduous trees in general are well-suited for fall, as are spring-blooming evergreens like rhododendrons and redbuds.

Some basic tree planting rules should apply. First, with any tree at any time, the planting hole should be roughly twice the diameter of the pot holding the tree. The depth of the hole should put the tree at its natural ground level (no deeper), but it’s not a bad idea to loosen up a few inches of soil at the bottom of the hole. Lastly, a nice 3-inch thick layer of well-rotted wood mulch should be spread around the trunk at least as wide as the tree’s canopy but kept from touching the trunk itself.

I’m Cathy Isom…