Fall is a wonderful time to plant trees down here in the gulf region. The cooler and wetter weather helps your tree establish itself and it’s protected from many of the elements that can make it hard on a tree that is planted in spring or summer.
As fall sets in the shorter days mean a decrease in photosynthesis which leads to a halt in new growth. However, the still warm soil promotes root growth and that development helps your tree better establish in its new environment. Trees planted in the fall have a head start and they’re better suited to deal with the upcoming Texas heat and potential drought conditions that spring and summer can unleash.
The weather conditions are less stressful for your establishing tree. Fall usually brings an increase in precipitation and that increase in rainfall means that you need to do less watering for your new addition. Once the warmer temperatures and long days return your tree can flourish with new growth and you can rest easy knowing that your tree has already started spreading its roots and really started to take hold of its new home.
Caring For A New Tree
Once your tree is planted make sure that you’re treating it properly. Water is, by far, the most important thing for your tree. David Williamson of RCW Nursery in Houston says that it’s important to to check the soil moisture around your tree every day for the first two weeks.
Dig a hole next to the root ball of your tree; it should be about 12 inches deep. You should be able to reach your hand in to feel the root ball and assess how wet the root ball is. If the soil falls away it’s too dry and if the soil clumps it’s wet. If the soil is dry it’s time to water.
Bring the hose over to your tree, set a time and water for a half hour. David Williamson noted that you should not rely on your sprinkler system to sufficiently water your tree. Again, make sure to check the soil moisture and water with a hose when needed. You should also keep track of when you’re watering your tree so that you can look for patterns to see how frequently your tree needs to be watered.
Weeds Remove weeds and grass by hand. Do not use a weed killer or a weed whacker around you the tree as the damage can kill your new tree.
Plants After planting your tree do not plant anything around it. This includes annuals, perennials, grasses, or shrubs. They will be competing for resources and potentially stress out your tree. Nothing should be planted for the first year.
Landscaping After you’ve planted your new tree just leave the landscaping around it alone for it’s first year. Do not put down any edging during this time. It can create areas of standing water that can damage your tree.
Mulch If you’ve had your tree professionally planted then leave the mulch that has been added and don’t mess with it for the first year. If you’re planting your new tree on your own than properly mulch around your tree after it has been planted.
Pruning is good for the overall health of your trees. By pruning your trees you’re encouraging new growth and ensuring that the tree can properly support itself.
Summer Pruning Pruning in the summer is typically done to direct the growth of the tree. You can also prune to remove dead or defective limbs. Summer should not be when a complete, thorough pruning is done.
Winter Pruning Winter pruning is the most common type of pruning. This type of pruning typically occurs when the coldest part of winter has passed. When you prune your tree while it is dormant your tree will have a hearty burst of new growth come spring.
Pruning Note Do not prune your trees in the fall. Tree cuts take longer to seal over in the fall and are susceptible to decay mold spores and other blights.
Getting Your Tree
When asked what his greatest advice was for someone looking to plant a new tree this fall, David Williamson stressed, “Buy from a nursery and avoid garden centers.” When you buy from a nursery you’re ensuring that you’re buying a tree that they have raised and they can give thorough, in-depth advice about the plant you’re purchasing or would like to purchase.