Whether you’re a content homeowner planning to stay in your home for years to come or a home seller trying to boost your home’s curb appeal, your autumn yard work and landscaping plans should include some tree TLC.
Read on for information about planting, pruning, watering and, when necessary, removing problematic trees in the autumn.
Autumn Tree Planting
According to Buckeye Gardening.com, autumn is the best time of year to plant young trees. As the weather turns cool, trees enter a dormant stage, and a tree’s energy is focused on strengthening its root system rather than growing branches and leaves.
Planting trees in the fall, then, gives young trees several months to develop a strong root system underground which will support branch and leaf growth in the spring.
Your local nursery or home and garden store will stock a selection of young trees appropriate for your climate during the fall months. Ask a salesperson to assist you in selecting the best tree for your needs, keeping in mind a tree’s anticipated adult size.
Autumn Tree Pruning
Autumn is the right time to prune most trees, but you don’t want to wait too long into the fall, warns Minnesota Trees.org. Cut branches that haven’t had time to harden and heal from pruning can become gravely injured by winter temperatures.
If you miss the prime pruning window that occurs between late summer and early fall, wait until very early spring to make an attempt. Here, too, though, you will have a short window in which to safely prune. Wait too long into the spring, when new growth is occurring, and you’ll risk wasting all of your tree’s branch-focused energy because you’ll be cutting off its most active flesh and throwing it away.
For more information about proper pruning methods, click here to visit Minnesota Trees.org’s “Basic Tree Care: Pruning Trees” guide.
Autumn Tree Watering
Since the cold-weather dormancy months are essential for tree root growth and development, you’ll want to give your trees a deep watering in the late autumn, when leaves and branches are no longer growing but the ground has not yet frozen.
The City of Minnetonka, Minn., advises its residents to water trees throughout autumn in order to set the stage for spring tree vigor and avoid damage from winter’s cold temperatures. Click here to read Minnetonka’s instructions for watering both new and established trees.
Autumn Removal of Problematic Trees
Most trees can be safely removed at any time of year, however you’ll want to avoid removing trees in the spring unless you are absolutely certain there are no active nests in the trees you want to remove. The U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to disturb the nests or eggs of many birds, and spring is nesting season for most bird species.
Fall may be the ideal time to remove dead or hazardous trees. Not only will nesting birds have moved on, but you’ll have given your dead or dying trees a full summer season to recuperate — if you didn’t see leaves and growth over the spring and summer, you likely won’t ever again.
Trees that are dead or dying are not necessarily the only ones that need to be removed from your yard. While arborists and nature lovers may not agree, cutting down a tree to allow more sunlight into your home or to open your front yard for purposes of curb appeal are calculated decisions that some homeowners — especially those hoping to sell — may make.
In addition, sometimes alternative methods of controlling invasive tree roots — those that clog up your sewer line, lift and crack nearby asphalt pavement, or are threatening a home’s foundation — fail, and removal of problematic tree may be warranted.
One Last Autumn Tree Care Task
Now that you’ve planted, pruned, watered and, if necessary, felled your trees for a tidier tree line and better curb appeal, there’s only one autumn tree task left to do: Rake those leaves!
Fred Hower, “Fall is the Best Time to Plant Shade Trees,” Buckeye Gardening.com
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, “Basic Tree Care: Pruning Trees,” MN Trees.org
City of Minnetonka, Minn., “Keep Watering Trees Through Fall Season,” EMinnetonka.com
Center for Wildlife Law at the University of New Mexico, United States Code, “Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” Wildlife Law.UMN.edu