Q. Is fall a good time to plant trees? Are there some that should not be planted in fall? - T.J. Carlson, Hendersonville, Tennessee
A. Many trees grow well when planted in fall, says arborist Tom Tyler of Bartlett Tree Experts. Although people often associate planting with spring, fall offers some advantages, he explains. "Warm soil encourages root growth prior to the onset of winter, while air temperatures tend to be cooler and more stable, reducing the amount of stress on newly planted trees. Fall rains make it easier to dig and provide ample moisture." Container-grown and balled-and-burlapped trees are best for fall planting; bare-root plants should be planted while they’re dormant.
Trees that have fibrous root systems lend themselves to successful planting in late summer through midfall. Maples, honeylocusts, lindens, elms, hackberries, spruces, pines, crabapples, and Kentucky coffee tree are among the choices for planting late in the growing season. Avoid hard- or slow-to-establish trees such as oak, birch, ginkgo, sweetgum, bald cypress, magnolia, and hemlock. “Don’t forget follow-up care,” Tyler advises. “New trees will need ample water, right up until the time the ground freezes.”
Ask Organic Gardening is edited by Deb Martin
Photography by Mark Turner/Getty Images
Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, October/November 2012