Tree Talk

Fall is upon us, so it's time to plant those trees

By Kineo Memmer
Taos High School senior, member of Taos Tree Board
Posted 9/11/18

September and October are the prime time for fall planting and preparing your trees for the winter months. If trees are not properly taken care of over the winter, they can die or come back weak in …

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Tree Talk

Fall is upon us, so it's time to plant those trees

Posted

September and October are the prime time for fall planting and preparing your trees for the winter months.

If trees are not properly taken care of over the winter, they can die or come back weak in the spring. Fall is a good time for planting because root generation potential is high due to the moderate to cool temperatures. Air temperatures are cooler then soil temperatures in the fall, because of the moisture and weather change, so trees can focus their energy on root growth rather than top growth.

Some trees that do better when planted in the fall include alder, ash, buckeye, crab apple, honey locust, linden, maple, sycamore, pines and spruces. Not all trees do well in the fall, however, so make sure that you plant your trees in conditions that will help them to thrive.

When transplanting a young tree, follow these nine steps designed by the International Society of Arboriculture to ensure that your newly planted trees are healthy and happy:

1. Identify the trunk flare (the area where the main roots attach to the tree trunk).

2. Dig a shallow, broad planting hole.

3. Remove the containers or cut away the wire basket.

4. Place the tree at the proper height.

5. Straighten the tree in the hole.

6. Fill the hole gently, but firmly.

7. Stake the tree, if necessary.

8. Mulch the base of the tree.

9. Provide follow-up care.

Follow-up care is the most important part of planting a new tree. To prevent transplant shock for your new trees, make sure that the tree has plenty, but not too much, water.

Mulching the tree is essential for water and nutrient retention. Use organic materials, such as leaves, shredded bark, peat moss, or wood chips. Create a ring of mulch about 6-12 inches away from the base of the tree, and do not exceed a four-inch layer.

Some new trees may need minor pruning after they are transplanted. However, try to hold off on pruning until the tree has survived for a full growing season in its new location.

Winter care of trees is important, especially for younger trees. Focus on younger trees first as they require the most care over the winter months.

Make sure to provide them with plenty of water once a month from December through February. Watch out for branches breaking from snow or heavy winds. Last, wrap the trunks of thin-barked trees such as honey locust, maple and linden to prevent bark damage in the winter.

You may have noticed that the trees are changing colors earlier than usual this year but do not be alarmed. This early showing of fall color is simply a reaction to the stress of the dry summer.

Low moisture levels are causing the trees to shut down early since they do not have the energy to continue supporting their foliage. The best thing you can do for your trees is to provide them with plenty of water and nutrients to prepare them for the upcoming winter months.

Memmer is a senior at Taos High School, a member of the Taos Tree Board, and an intern at the Taos Land Trust.

Information for this article was taken from "Why Tree Leaves Fall Before It's Fall," Steve Bender, Southern Living. "Fall planting of trees and shrubs," The Morton Arboretum. "Fall Tips to Prepare Trees for Winter," Colorado State Forest Service. "New Tree Planting," International Society of Arboriculture. "Fall and Winter Care of Trees in Taos," Paul Bryan Jones, The Taos News.

The Spanish version of this story is here.

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