Preparing for fall tree planting

  From the October 1, 2018 issue of Agri-News
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 Whether spring or fall, preparation and planning are key components of the tree planting process.

“Even though most farmers and landowners plant their trees for shelterbelts or around their yards in the spring, fall tree planting is much more common for city landscape and home yard projects,” says Toso Bozic, bioenergy and agroforestry specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “That being said, there are very few differences between spring and fall planting.”

In the fall, there is more moisture in the soil due to summer and fall rain and higher humidity. “This gives the root system a better chance to get established so it can be ready to get growing earlier in spring. In early spring, the soil is often dry and there is little humidity in the air.”

Bozic says there are several steps to consider prior to planting trees in the fall.

“When it comes to picking a tree species, many rural owners are very familiar with shelterbelt tree species selection. However, they may be less familiar with tree or shrub species that are not designed for shelterbelts, and with species generally grown in urban areas. Tree species diversity is crucial for the health and well-being of your yard or shelterbelt.”

A variety of trees and shrubs species can be found in urban areas including ones that, in theory, should not be grown here at all due to Alberta’s harsh climate conditions. “However, they are doing just fine in our cities and towns, and provide great beauty and diversity alongside our native tree and shrubs species. A quick look around cities and towns may give you some ideas for what to plant - be creative and experiment!”

In the spring most people plant small trees, while in fall choosing larger trees and shrubs is a common practice, says Bozic. “At season end, there are many trees and shrubs on sale at local tree nurseries or various retail stores. They come in containers or basket and burlap.

“If you buy trees in the typical black container stock that comes in various sizes, always inspect them prior to buying. Check for any broken branches, weak branch crotches, signs of insect or disease, irregular shapes and, most importantly, for a bound root system. If you see the roots already coming out of the container, most likely the root system is bound which can create future problems. If you see the roots are excessively bound or the tree is damaged – simply don’t buy it.”

Balled and burlap trees are usually larger caliper (diameter) trees that are dug up, balled in a wire basket and wrapped in juta burlap. Bozic recommends doing an inspection of the overall health of the tree prior to buying it.

As for selecting a planting site, there are many things to pay attention to, such as soil, moisture, slope, exposure, and physical barriers like a house, fence, or power line. Bozic says that to avoid potential future problems that trees can cause to yard, home and buildings, make sure to see mature trees of that species before choosing the planting site.

“Planting trees in fall requires some planning and diligent work ahead of time. It’s hard work, but very rewarding in the long term. Always have fun.”

Toso Bozic

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Toso Bozic.
This document is maintained by Christine Chomiak.
This information published to the web on September 17, 2018.