Although your clients might think of spring as the time for all planting activity, the fall is actually an excellent time of the year to install trees because of the weather conditions. If your clients are thinking about having any new trees installed on their property, it might be worth suggesting they tackle it now.
Todd Thomasson, the owner of Rock Water Farm, a landscaping company in Aldie, Virginia, says that the cooler air temperatures and overall milder conditions make the fall an excellent time for this type of work.
“The soil is still warm, which will help trees to become established quickly,” he says. “But because the air temperatures are beginning to cool down and the sun isn’t scorching, it puts a lot less stress on the tree.”
Thomasson points out that in Virginia where his company is located—as well as many other parts of the country—the fall also means more moisture in the air. It won’t be as hot or dry as it was in the summer. Extra rainfall is beneficial to the health of the tree.
The fall gives trees time to become established
Another benefit to planting trees in the fall is that they’ll have a whole extra growing season before having to deal with the stressors that come with summer weather. Although your clients might be worried about how a new tree will stand up to the winter, it’s not nearly as stressful as they realize. In fact, summer puts a lot more stress on trees than winter.
“In the winter, trees go dormant which slows their rate of growth and energy consumption,” Thomasson explains.
You might think of this as a sleep-like state, much like animal hibernation. Dormancy is trees’ natural defense against the conditions of winter. For that reason, it’s generally safe to install trees up until the ground freezes.
Best practices for caring for newly installed trees
No matter when you install trees, you’ll need to make sure that you’re caring for them properly so that they’ll thrive at your client’s property. Proper watering is one of the most important considerations—and that’s necessary no matter what the time of year. If you do install trees in the spring, you’ll just want to make sure that the trees are getting ample water as they head into potential periods of drought during the summer.
“If you install trees for your clients in the spring, you’ll want to keep a closer eye on its needs,” Thomasson advises. “But whether in the spring or the fall, newly installed trees still need some extra care and attention just to make sure they’re performing well. Trees can take a while to become established in their new home and proper water is an important part of that process.”
Thomasson says that they often recommend "Treegator bags" for newly installed trees as these will release water slowly, deeply saturating the ground so the water can reach the roots. Oftentimes your clients may be watering for too short of a time period. Watering shallowly will not allow it to reach the roots.
Mulching around trees
Rock Water Farm also recommends mulching around trees for success. Adding a mulched tree ring helps the tree roots retain water by preventing evaporation from the wind and sun. It also helps to maintain soil temperature.
Just be sure that you avoid creating mulch volcanoes, which is a common but detrimental mulching mistake.
At the end of the day, you can help set your clients up for success with newly installed trees by following best practices no matter what time of the year you install them.