Yes, You Should Plant Trees in the Fall

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Can’t you feel it in the air? Bitter cold winds are sweeping down from Alaska, and will soon bring signs of first frost to northern Virginia. The regions residents are now spending more time raking leaves of red and orange than they are resting under verdant canopies, but don’t let the shorter days and dropping temperatures fool you: Fall is optimal tree-planting season.

Why?

Root growth, thats why! When trees and shrubs are planted in autumn, the root systems are given a chance to grow before the summer heat arrives with a vengeance. The best time for Fall planting is six weeks before the first sign of hard frost, and while we’re probably well past that point, there’s still time.

Grab your shovel and your gardening gloves. Bushes and shrubs will settle their roots, and sleep through winter’s cold, only to flourish come spring. But if you’ve got a mind to do a little fall planting, do it this week, and don’t wait. Planting too late in the season will only have a negative impact on your new tree’s health.

November brings cooler temperatures and more rainfall, which means your saplings need watering less often. With cooler temperatures come decreased photosynthesis processes, and trees that need less water altogether. Where does all of this lead? To the promotion of rapid root development, that’s where. The air grows cold much faster than the soil does; tree shoot development slows, and then falls into dormancy during cold weather months, which in turn allows the tree to grow and establish its network of roots.

Benefits

But won’t my neighbors think I’m crazy? Now is the time for chopping down evergreen trees, and stringing lights on the roof.

Your neighbors might look sidewise, but come spring, when your trees are lush, they’ll be green with envy. Trees planted in the fall retain more inherent moisture, and can better withstand extreme heat and drought. And not only that: While trees are beautiful year round, never is that more true than in the fall. Plant in the season of foliage, and set your yard ablaze (figuratively, of course) in style.

We should note, though, it is inadvisable to plant broad-leaved evergreens arhododendrons, azaleas, boxwoods, etc. Opt for one of these autumn-weather loving species instead: maple, buckeye, horse chestnut, alder, catalpa, hackberry, hawthorn, ash, honey locust, crabapple, amur corktree, spruce, pine, sycamore, linden and elm.