Fall – A Perfect Time for Tree Planting

What makes fall a good time to plant a new tree? During autumn, the soil is still warm enough to support root growth, allowing the root system to become established. The cooler weather also means less watering and less evaporation of moisture from the soil. Since fall and winter months typically experience more precipitation there is less need for manual irrigation of newly planted trees.

New trees are available in one of these three ways: bare-root, container, or balled and burlapped. Each way has pros and cons and your decision will be just one of many things you’ll have to consider when selecting and purchasing a tree. The site and species are both critical decisions that play an important role in the success of any new planting. The size is another major factor. When you are considering a new planting, contact your local nursery for advice and allow time to source the proper stock for your property conditions.

Fall A Perfect Time Trees can be purchased bare root container or balled and burlapped as shown here 300x200 - Fall – A Perfect Time for Tree Planting

Trees can be purchased bare root, container, or balled and burlapped as shown here.

Once you have selected the perfect tree, it’s time to plant!  But not so fast! First, study up on these important tips to help your new tree get settled in its new home.

Fall A Perfect Time Use a straight edge as a guideline to ensure your tree is not planted too deeply 200x300 - Fall – A Perfect Time for Tree Planting

Use a straight edge as a guideline to ensure your tree is not planted too deeply.

  • Dig a planting hole that is about three times the width of the tree’s root ball.
  • For bare root trees, plant them as soon as possible – maximum a week.
  • For balled and burlapped trees, cut any wire or burlap away from the root ball. Loosen the soil in the ball and try to spread the roots out.
  • For container trees, cut away any circling roots that may have developed in a container. (This is important for health and longevity of the tree.)
  • Make sure that the tree’s root collar (the area where the trunk and roots join) is exposed. Particularly for container trees, you may have to remove any soil that had covered the root collar while it was in the pot.
  • When you place the tree in the planting hole, be sure that the root collar is at the soil surface. A straight edge across the hole is a good guide to ensure that the tree is not sitting too low. You may need to put some dirt back into the hole to position the tree correctly.
  • After planting, put a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch over the soil surface. Don’t mound it up around the base of the trunk.
  • Give your new tree a good watering and enjoy!


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Being a leader in the tree care industry means continually focusing on learning and innovation. Bartlett’s Tree Topics blog follows in that tradition by offering a place to receive advice on trees, tree pests, tree preservation, and more.

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