If you’re thinking about adding or replacing any trees and shrubs in your yard, Fall is a great time to do it. Most local garden centers are offering deep discounts on plants they’d rather sell than over-winter.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind when you’re shopping.
Most deciduous trees and shrubs have stopped growing for the season and are shutting down for their winter rest. They’ll be just as happy to sleep at your house as at the nursery, but the sooner you get them nestled into the ground, the better. As at other times of the year, it’s important to water deeply after planting. You’ll want to keep the root zone moist until the ground freezes. It’s also a good idea to mulch the planting area with a thick layer of shredded bark or straw to help insulate the roots and retain moisture. Be sure to keep the mulch back at least 2 or 3 inches away from the base of plant.
Evergreen shrubs and trees also enter a period of slumber, but since they keep their “leaves”, they continue transpiring all winter long. This means they’ll need to absorb water through their roots to replace whatever moisture is lost from the foliage. For this reason, fall-planted evergreens need a little extra attention. Keep the soil moist until the ground freezes and make sure to apply 4 to 6 inches of mulch around the root zone. If the ground doesn’t freeze, you’ll need to continue watering the root zone to keep the soil moist. In cold areas, it’s wise to wrap evergreen trees and shrubs with burlap for the first winter. This will dramatically reduce moisture loss through the foliage and minimize the stress of transplanting.
Once you’ve selected your bargains, examine the plants closely to make sure there aren’t wounds in the bark or damaged branches. Gently massage each pot and ease out the root ball to check the health of the roots. They should fill the pot evenly and should not encircle the root ball. Light-colored roots typically indicate good health, though this isn’t a hard and fast rule as some roots are just naturally dark in color.
So make a visit to your local garden center this weekend. That plant you couldn’t justify purchasing last spring may still be there—at half the price!
To refresh your memory about how to properly plant a tree or shrub, check out this video called Planting Ornamentals.