Landscape Now: Fall Plantings For Your Backyard
Saturday, October 05, 2013
Several Precautions with Fall Planting
Although fall is a great time to plant and transplant there are several restrictions that you need to be cognizant of. There are some trees that are “Fall Hazards” meaning they should not be dug or transplanted in the fall because of an increased chance of failure. These plants should be dug or transplanted in the spring for the best chance of success. Several of these trees are: Red maples, Birches, Beeches, Dogwoods, Hawthorns, Magnolias, Cherries, Oaks, Hollies and Red cedars. However, you can plant these trees in the fall if they have been dug in the spring or grown in containers. The same is true for shrubs and perennials that have been grown in containers...planting in the fall will be fine.
The other precaution is to wait until plants have gone dormant before transplanting them in your yard. Normally this will be after the first several frosts, usually mid-October. So long as the transplanted tree or shrub has 30-45 days before the ground freezes, the roots will have a chance to grow and adjust to its new surroundings.
Interesting Varieties to Plant
Fall is a great time to tour nurseries and pick out plants that are exhibiting their fall leaf colors. Spring and early summer purchases will give you an idea of flower color and leaf shape, but fall selections will show you their true foliage colors and add another seasonal element to your landscape. Sugar maples, tupelos, kousa dogwoods, fothergillas, oakleaf hydrangeas, blueberries, sweetspires, cotoneasters, and paperbark maples all display varying vivid colors highlighting the fall season in your gardens.
Planting Procedures for Fall Installation
Aftercare, Winter Protection and Fertilizing
Even though the weather may be cool and moist, properly watering your new plants will be necessary until the ground freezes. Watering twice a week, deeply and slowly, will give the newly installed plant the moisture at the roots it needs to stimulate new root growth and adapt to its new surroundings. Although there is conflicting research about fertilizing new plants, I recommend no fertilizing at planting. The use of compost in the soil mix will provide moisture holding abilities, some nutrients, and humus for the plant to grow. Fertilizing can be done after a soil test and when the plant shows signs of distress with lack of vigor, weak growth, and discolored leaves.
Winter protection will be necessary, especially for fall planted evergreens to prevent winter wind desiccation. The application of anti-desiccants (like Wilt-Proof) will help the leaves and needles withstand winter winds that can dry out the plant throughout the winter. Erecting windscreens will help and mulching around newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials will help to moderate ground temperatures, hold moisture, and prevent the soil from heaving.
With some planning, you can successfully plant and transplant trees and shrubs over the next month or so depending on the weather. In southern New England, we normally have more time to plant before winter because of the moderating effect of the nearby warmer ocean. So, plan to visit your local nursery or garden center to pick out those colorful trees and shrubs and begin planting before winter sets in!
In my next article, I will take the mystery out of pruning your landscape trees, shrubs and perennials!
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” —L.M. Montgomery
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