Fall is a great time to plant. The greatest risk to a fall planted tree is frost heaving. This is when the ground is going through a freeze and thaw cycle that damages tree roots. We can completely eliminate the risk of frost heaving simply by placing a four inch thick layer of mulch around the tree. This will insulate the soil which will prevent freezing until much later in the season. If and when the soil does freeze, it tends to stay frozen until the spring thaw.
Now lets talk about the advantages of fall planting.
FIRST, the soils tend to be warmer, especially in early fall.
SECONDLY, the roots of the tree grow rapidly and push into the soil at approximately the same time that the leaf buds begin to grow. With the fall planting, all that growth happens in your soil and not in a pot at the nursery. This means that the tree will be rooted-in much better when the summer heat hits. THIRDLY, the soil still tends to be moist due to fall rainfall but not soggy like it can be in the spring.
FOURTHLY, spring is such a busy time, why not plant in the fall when there is usually more time available.
LASTLY, is that trees are often cheaper in the fall than any other time during the year. At our nursery, all of our unsold trees must be packed in wood chips for the winter. We would rather discount a tree than go to the efforts of packing them.
Just remember that it is essential to keep the root ball hydrated until the leaves have fallen. After the leaves have dropped, the tree should be watered once more if the soil is dry. According to climate specialists, the winter of 2021 was the driest winter we have had in 12,000 years. We have replaced more trees this year than we have any other season we have been in business. If we have another dry winter, trees may need to be watered even over the winter. As long as trees are mulched and watered, Fall is a GREAT time to plant.
Dave Luker is South East Idaho's tree expert. He has been helping people with their yard and garden questions for years. Do you have a question about your yard or garden? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
and Dave may answer it in his blog!