You might not know it, but fall is the best time to plant trees, bushes, and shrubs. When you plant in the fall, trees have time to establish themselves without dealing with the stress and heat of summer. There is another advantage: this one is to your wallet. Many home and garden centers will discount their larger plants (like trees and bushes) in the fall. They can be as much as 50% off! Stores would rather sell these now than store them over the winter.
When choosing your trees or bushes, don’t always look for the prettiest plants. It’s more important that the tree trunk or main bush branches are straight and uniform. The ball should be intact. Leaves and such will grow in with time. Sometimes in this time of year, the trees are a little ragged looking but the price will be worth it. You’ll see, when spring comes ,they’ll really take off.
Planting is easy. You will receive planting instructions. Follow them, but there are also a few standards to follow. First: dig a big enough hole. Most trees and bushes need to crown a little, so don’t plant completely down to the trunk. Do till the soil under the root ball so the roots have easy access to spread. Slice the ball with a razor knife or remove wrapping as instructed. Place the tree in the hole. Fill in and tamp down. Water as you’re refilling the soil to prevent any air pockets. This is most important as air pockets can cause root damage.
The most important thing is water. The tree will need copious amounts of water right up until the ground freezes. Use a good, thick layer of mulch to conserve the moisture. Make sure to leave space around the trunk or bottom of the bush. Mulching right up to the trunk can cause deterioration of the trunk and give bugs a place to breed. Water twice weekly using an open hose, trickling near the edge the root ball. Leave for at least an hour. Keep watering till the ground freezes, usually in mid November. Don’t do any pruning or trimming now. If you do, you will promote new growth that may not make it over the winter. Have at it in the spring. Also stake or support as necessary. You want these to plantings resist all the winter winds and snow. Wait for spring and see the rewards of your work in the spring: plants and trees taking off!
KATHY WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO