Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant A Tree

Boy Helping Father Plant a Tree

The word “Autumn” usually stirs up images of pumpkins, sweaters, and trees colored with beautiful shades of red, gold, and orange leaves. Rarely does the picture of kneeling in the dirt, carefully packing plants into the ground, come to mind. Though spring is usually associated with rain, warm weather, and budding plants, fall is the perfect time to plant a tree.

Seasonal Misconceptions About Planting

It is because of the rain, warm weather, and long growing season that spring is assumed to be the best time to plant. But, there are many reasons why certain trees and shrubs do better when planted in the fall.

Short Spring 

Newly planted trees are easily damaged when not properly acclimated. A short spring means the tree may not be established before the extreme heat of summer.

Wet Soil

Soggy Wet Soil

Overly wet soil makes planting trees more difficult.

Cool Temperatures

Cool air and warm soil during fall help to develop the tree, giving it a head start for spring. Roots can be established without new top growth, meaning a stronger root system.

Tree Recovery

Newly Planted Sprout in Good Soil

The soil moisture in September and October makes for an easier recovery for the tree from the transplant. During this point of the season, the soil is usually neither too wet nor too dry.

Warm Soil

Pumpkin Patch Being Warmed by the Sun

In the fall, soil is still warm from summer months. Cold soil in the spring delays root and plant growth.

Trees to Plant During Fall

Huge Maple Tree in Front of a Barn in the Fall

For the following, fall is the perfect time to plant a tree:

  • Maple – Sugar Maple, Japanese Maple, Hornbeam Maple, and Amur Maple
  • Elm – American Elm, Cedar Elm or Chinese Elm
  • Evergreens – Spruce and Pine
  • Linden
  • Honey Locust
  • Buckeyes
  • Ash – White Ash, European Ash, and Green Ash
  • Sycamores
  • Fruit Trees – Apple, Pear, and Cherry

Trees to Plant During Spring

Crabapple BSlossoms

Not all trees should be planted in the fall. Some do prefer spring.

  • Oak – White Oak and Pin Oak
  • Ironwood
  • Crabapple
  • Hickory
  • Magnolia
  • Cypress – Bald Cypress and Monterey Cypress
  • Willows
  • Hemlock

A Narrow Window of Time for Planting 

Planting a Tree

It’s ideal to plant a tree at least six weeks before the first frost. This allows the roots to become established before the ground freezes. Waiting too long can negatively impact the health of any tree.

Contact Us if you need help planting this fall or would like to find out more about our tree care services.


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