Why Fall is a Great Time to Plant Trees

Christopher Wray
August 31, 2023

Fall is a wonderful time of year to plant trees.

Many times, after a long winter, a lot of us feel ready and excited about planting trees in the spring. This is understandable, because spring is full of garden work and fun outdoors.

We love the spring blossoms and flowers that brighten up the cloudy days, but spring is probably the second best time to plant trees.

Although it doesn’t hurt to plant trees in the spring, trees planted in the spring will require extra care during the summer months compared to trees planted in the Fall.

Why is fall a great time to plant trees then?

There are several reasons why we think fall is a great time of year to plant trees, and I will go into some of the reasons why below.

Just to be clear, in this article I am mostly writing about container trees, not B&B or bare-root trees.

Bare-root trees need to be planted during the early spring before their foliage pushes, because they need soil and water for new growth.

Rarely, you can purchase bare-root trees in the fall anyways, but we wanted to save you the trouble of searching. B&B trees can be planted after they are dug, so sometimes this will be in the fall and other times in early spring. We would recommend planting B&B trees soon after they are dug.

Water is a less of a concern when planting in the fall.

Water is a less of a concern when planting in the fall. Make sure that the trees have completely shut down for the winter before stopping to water your trees if you don't have fall rains that keep moisture in the soil.

If your yard sprinklers no longer water after a certain month, make sure your soil is moist as your trees shut down. You may need to hand water until deciduous trees have lost their leaves, or until you are sure that your conifers are in moist soil for the winter.

Trees use water and sunlight to produce energy for their growth.

During the winter months, when deciduous trees lose their leaves, there is less of a need in the tree for water, especially with winter moisture, like we have in Tri-Cities normally.

Although the tree still needs some moisture near their roots, they won’t be using water like in the summertime. This means that you won’t need to be watering your trees during the winter unless it is super dry.

Trees can establish well during the winter and spring.

Although at a slower rate, trees continue to grow during the winter. If you have your trees planted in the fall, they will start to establish themselves in their new landscape setting.

When the spring comes, the trees will take off, rooting themselves in the soil and pushing new growth. If you plant a flowering variety of tree, then you will also get to enjoy the tree as it flowers in your yard. If you plant a tree in the spring, you may have already missed the flowers.

Emerald City Tulip Tree leaves in October at Garden Gate Nursery.

Fall color in tree foliage.

One of the greatest advantages to planting in late September to mid October is you may get to enjoy the color of autumn in your yard soon after you plant your trees. In the Tri-Cities, Trees will start to change color around mid October and some varieties will change in late October and early November.

This gives you enough time to enjoy extra green in your yard for a few weeks and then be blessed by the rich colors of Autumn for a few weeks before the trees drop their leaves for the winter.

There will be less transplant shock.

Transplant shock is a tricky subject, especially since here at the farm we transplant trees almost all year round without ever having transplant shock.

Transplant shock happens when the newly transplanted tree does not have the proper amount of water after being transplanted or during the process.

Saying that, planting in the fall can reduce the amount of shock as the tree will be shutting down for the winter anyways. Trees can still experience shock in the fall, but it probably won’t kill them, unless they don’t have any water at all for some amount of time.

Less spring garden work.

Although we all love our gardens, they can be a chore in the spring. Planting trees in the fall can save on some of your labor and give you beauty as you do your spring garden clean up.

Thanks so much for reading another article and we hope this helps you as you plant your trees!

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