While it may seem like the growing season is over, now is the perfect time to plant some trees! Not only is the soil warmer in late summer and early autumn, but most plants will naturally transfer their energy from top growth to root growth, allowing transplanted trees to establish well before the first snowfall. Here are a few fall planting tips that will help young trees survive and thrive in your yard.
1. PLANT TREES ONLY WHEN THE SOIL TEMPERATURE IS
OVER 55° F.
Since warm soil promotes stronger and faster root growth, you should plant your tree when the soil temperature is over 55° F. In addition to spring planting, fall planting is also highly recommended for trees. Fall weather puts less stress on a tree's root system as it develops. In most areas, the ideal time to plant is six to eight weeks before the first sign of hard frost.
2. DIG A HOLE THAT'S AS DEEP AS THE ROOT BALL AND AT
LEAST TWICE AS WIDE.
A newly-planted tree will do better in a shallow yet wide hole because new roots will grow horizontally from the sides of its root ball. If the hole is expansive enough, your tree will have plenty of room to stretch out its roots, encouraging it to grow at a quicker pace.
3. MAKE SURE THE ROOT BALL IS LEVEL WITH THE SOIL.
Once you've removed your tree from its container and put it in the freshly-dug hole, lay a spade or shovel across the top of the hole. This will help you determine if the top of the root ball is level with the soil line. If the root ball is buried too deep, or not deep enough, its roots will fail to establish, causing your tree to die within a month of planting.
4. BACKFILL AND HANDPACK THE SOIL
After you backfill the hole with existing soil, lightly handpack the soil around the tree. This will settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Refrain from tamping the soil with your feet; this could cause the tree to slowly sink in the soil and damage the root ball.
5. RETAIN MOISTURE WITH MULCH.
Cover your planting hole with a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch to prevent your tree's roots from drying out. However, as you apply the mulch, make sure that it doesn't touch your tree's trunk. Due to its high level of moisture, mulch can cause a young tree to weaken and decay when in close proximity.
6. WATER YOUR TREE DAILY.
Since trees should be watered slowly and deeply, you should water your tree with a soaker hose or a Ross Root Feeder. To use a soaker hose, simply encircle the hose around the base of your tree and turn it on. After about 20 to 30 minutes, the soil should be well saturated. The Ross Root Feeder will also give your tree deep watering by distributing water directly to its roots. Encourage even deeper root development by adding a Ross Root Fertilizer Pellet to your feeder before each watering. By feeding and watering your tree at the same time, you can improve the future health and happiness of your tree.