Greening West Goshen: Fall Tree Planting Guide

Fall is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. The cooler temperatures and wet conditions of early autumn are ideal for new plantings. The stress of transplanting a tree (which may lose up to 90% of its root system in the transplant process)is greatly reduced. As tree shoot growth halts with the colder weather and plants go dormant, less water is needed. Root systems have a chance to develop before spring growth and summer heat set in. When leaves unfurl and expand in the spring, the increased roots are better able to access the reservoir of water, making trees planted in the fall better equipped to deal with heat and drought in the following season. Maple, buckeye, horse chestnut, alder, catalpa, hackberry, hawthorn, ash, honey locust, crabapple, spruce, pine, sycamore, linden, and elm especially react well to fall plantings.

Before planting, it is always safest to call 811 first to detect underground utilities. When planting a tree, remember not to dig the hole too deep. If the tree root is balled, aim to have the top of the ball be level with the ground. Dig a wide hole—at least three times the diameter of the root ball. Have the center of the hole be about ½ inch higher than the edge of the hole, so the root ball will not “drown” and the base of the trunk will not rot from sitting in water. This will also cause the roots to extend further to absorb water the tree needs—thus increasing your root growth. Avoid using commercial fertilizers.

Fill the hole loosely with backfill. You may want to use a mixture of 2/3 soil and 1/3 compost or manure, especially if planting fruit or nut trees. Place shredded hardwood or leaf mulch around the tree, making sure to keep it two to three inches away from the trunk to prevent rot. Water fifteen gallons per week during the first year. If necessary to stake the tree, make sure lines are tied loosely to the trunk and do not dig into the bark or tighten around the tree. Remove stakes after the first year. Reapply mulch as needed.

Trees provide numerous ecological and economical benefits to property owners. By converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, trees reduce greenhouse gases. They also absorb other harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone. By planting trees near your house, you can reduce noise pollution and increase privacy, and the shade provided by trees can cool your home and reduce air conditioning costs. Trees placed upwind from your house can act as windbreaks and reduce home heating bills up to 30%. Trees help prevent soil erosion and stormwater runoff and, as they mature, slow water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Trees provide habitat for wildlife and food for birds. Studies have shown that houses landscaped with trees have increased property values, and businesses landscaped with trees are likely to draw more visitors than those without. Trees can also provide beneficial psychological effects. Patients with a view of trees from their windows heal faster and with fewer complications than those who can’t view trees during recuperation. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have regular access to nature. Tree-lined neighborhoods and homes have lower crime rates than those without trees. The color green has been shown to have a calming effect on the human brain. 

Comments are closed.