Dees’ Nursery Elementree School, Today’s Lesson: Fall Tree Planting
So you think you can plant trees? Don’t get ahead of yourself, champ. While tree planting certainly isn’t difficult, you can’t just wing it without knowing the basics. With the back-to-school season underway, we figured a little lesson in fall tree planting would be useful for all you Long Island gardeners looking to spruce up your landscape.
Fall Tree Planting? Elementree, My Dear Watson!
Tree planting isn’t a complex mystery—it’s a few basic principles that even a fifth grader can understand. If you want to add some colorful, shady trees to your Long Island landscape, follow this guide to successfully transplant trees in the fall.
What Is the Best Time to Plant a Tree?
Fall and spring are the best times to plant trees because the weather isn’t crazy hot. If the sun is beating down on the soil and heating it, your new little saplings will get shocked by the transition into their new home. We like planting trees in October—those fall conditions are absolutely perfect, and it gives you just enough time for the roots to spread and establish before the winter cold hits.
Picking the Right Tree for Your Location
Trees aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. If you’ve got a 10×10 front yard, you don’t want to plant a tree that reaches 60 feet tall and wide. That’s just basic math, dude.
There are plenty of small ornamental trees to add color and texture to the landscape or a bit of privacy for your front window. Mid-sized trees can offer some great shade to keep your house cool and shaded if you have a bit more free space. If your yard is big and sprawling, by all means, plant the 60-foot behemoth!
Some trees love moist environments, and others prefer drier soil, so you need to evaluate the type of landscape you have and the amount of maintenance you’re willing to do. If you’ve got a tree that prefers moist soil, you won’t want to plant it at the top of a hill—all that soil moisture will just drain away! Placing it at the bottom of a hill will have much better results.
Planting Your Tree in the Fall
Dig a hole twice as big as the root ball—sprinkling some bone meal in the hole before planting will encourage stronger, faster root spread. If the root ball is tight and tangled, you can loosen it up with your fingers or score the outside with a sanitized knife.
When you place your sapling into the hole, hold onto the root ball with one hand and the trunk with your other hand. Gently place it in, hold it up straight, and then backfill the hole with your remaining soil. Gently tamp down the soil, and make sure the crown of the root ball is sitting just slightly beneath the soil surface. You don’t want to pile up soil around the trunk, which can cause rot.
Always water newly planted trees generously! Every three days or so should work. Watering helps them establish and spread their roots, and you want to make sure it gets plenty of moisture before the ground freezes.
Protecting Your New Tree
The one caveat with planting trees in fall is that you need to take some extra steps for winter protection. Luckily, it’s not very difficult! For frost protection, we recommend wrapping saplings in burlap or another protective plant wrap at the start of winter. To insulate their roots, spread a few inches of mulch across the soil.
Got any more questions about fall tree planting on Long Island? Our experts at Dees’ Nursery will be more than happy to give you a crash course! Visit us soon to pick up some healthy new saplings that are ready to go into the ground.