Fall Tree Planting in Spring

If you want it to look good this fall, plant it now…in spring.


Everyone loves the gold, bronze, red and purple colors of shade trees in the fall, but many put it off and put it off.  Why not enjoy the green of spring and summer and the glory of fall all in one?


Color is certainly an important feature and planting consideration, but there are many others.  Most of them center around the time-tested tenet (ttt) of Right Plant, Right Place, or in this case, Right Tree, Right Place.  So, it pays to take a little time to think about the following before heading off to the garden center:

*Purpose – is it for shade, fruit, screening, winter appeal or framing in addition to fall color?

*Disease resistance – find out if it is susceptible to common maladies such as cedar apple rust, apple scab, anthracnose, fireblight and powdery mildew.

*Location – where will it cast a shadow?  On your prized roses or veggie garden?  How about the electric power lines overhead?  Is that an issue?

*Size and Shape – tall and thin, wide and short, or what?

*Growth Rate – generally, fast growth equals short life and problems.  Slow to medium is best.

*Size – aim for 1-2 inches in caliper (diameter) as a sweet spot between a 6 inch trunk and a whip for best establishment potential.


That in mind, you’re set to choose fall color as a selection factor, plant the tree and mark the calendar for a great show in the fall.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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