Fall Planting: Time for Trees and Shrubs Fall Planting: Time for Trees and Shrubs

Many people don't realize that fall is actually the best time to plant trees, shrubs and perennial flowers. A bonus is that they are usually on sale at garden centers, all the more reason to plant. Planting in the fall gives roots plenty of time to become established before the next growing season begins. As long as ample water is provided, fall is an ideal time to plant both evergreen as well as deciduous shrubs and trees.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Do not prune or fertilize your new tree or shrub as this encourages new growth. Fertilize in the spring."

Tree and Shrub Selection

Be sure that you select trees and shrubs that are well-suited for your growing region and the location where you wish to plant them. Be sure that you pay attention to the mature size of the tree or shrub, both height and spread. You don't want to have to move it later on. Look for healthy specimen, but do not be alarmed if they look a little ragged. This is because it is the end of the season. They will liven back up in the spring.


Dig a hole 3 times as wide and just as deep as the plant's rootball. If the tree is in burlap, there is no need to remove it, as it will rot over a period of time. If the tree is in a container, it is important to carefully remove the tree and loosen the roots. Many trees grown in containers become root bound. It is essential that the roots are loose when planting. Gently place the tree or shrub into the hole and backfill with a mixture of native soil, and peat moss if the soil is heavy with clay. Lightly tamp the soil down around the plant.

TIP: Susan says, "Do not add compost or other rich organic material to the potting hole, use only native soil. This will encourage the roots to grow horizontally."

Create a "saucer" around the edge of the planting by building up a 2 inch high ridge to prevent water from escaping before it soaks into the ground. Cut away any twine from the tree's branches.

TIP: Susan suggests, "Add a layer of compost or well-aged manure mixed with compost around the tree or shrub. The nutrients will seep down into the soil. Do not let the compost or the mulch touch the trunk."


Allow the water to soak into the ground and ensure that the soil around the planting stays moist until the ground freezes. Adequate water supply is essential to the survival of your new tree.

TIP: Susan advises, "Use a water bag for new trees and shrubs to ensure that they get enough water through the fall."

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