By: Scott Eckert, County Extension Agent, Horticulture
Fall chores are necessary to keep up with the home landscape. One of my favorite fall activities is teaching the new class of Master Gardeners beginning next week!
Another fun chore is to plant new trees. The fall season can be an excellent time to plant trees. During the spring, soils are cold and may be so wet that low oxygen levels inhibit root growth. The warm and moist soils associated with fall encourage root growth. Remember to dig a wider hole, 2 to 3 times wider than the root ball of the new tree and plant the tree a few inches higher than the original ground level to help with drainage in our tight clay soil. Fall root growth means the tree becomes established well before a spring-planted tree and is better able to withstand summer stresses. However, certain trees do not produce significant root growth during the fall and are better planted in the spring.
These include beech, birch, redbud, magnolia, tulip poplar, willow oak, scarlet oak, black oak, willows, and dogwood. Fall-planted trees require some special care. Remember, that roots are actively growing even though the top is dormant.
Make sure the soil stays moist but not soggy. This may require watering not only in the fall but also during the winter months if we experience warm spells that dry the soil. Mulch also is helpful because it minimizes moisture loss and slows the cooling of the soil so root growth continues as long as possible. Evergreens should be moved earlier in the fall than deciduous plants. They need at least six weeks before the ground freezes for the roots to become established.