Tips for planting trees in the fall
With each autumn and spring come opportunities to plant a little hope.
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"He who plants a tree
Plants a hope."
Poet Lucy Larcom (1826-1893) from Plant a Tree
Thinking of planting a tree? Perhaps you're looking for some shade someday or a tasty treat of fruit right from your yard. Maybe you'd like a spot for songbirds to sit or a blaze of fall color.
Two experts — horticulturist Kerri Badertscher of Colorado State University and Ken Fisher, forestry assistant for the city of Boulder, Colo., — shared some ideas about what to consider if you're planting in the fall.
First, they say, try something different.
"We want to avoid planting a monoculture of trees," Fisher says. "One thing that is just over-planted everywhere would have to be green or white ash... There's a lot of insect and disease problems with these trees in particular."
Both discourage planting Russian olives, which suck up water. Badertscher also discourages planting aspens, which are designed for the mountains.
"They're meant for the higher elevations," she says. "When we move them from their native habitat, they're subject to disease."
Siberian elms and some maples also are overused, Fisher says.
If you're looking for fruit-producing trees, consider where you live. Many fruit trees require a set, male and female, to pollinate and produce, Badertscher says.
When planting trees, make sure you take them out of plastic containers, burlap bags or other constraints. Don't laugh — Badertscher says she's seen folks plant them in the container, which then girdles the roots and eventually kills the trees.
How to care for recently planted trees:
- Don't water at the base of the tree, but farther away, under the canopy of the branches, to make sure the water gets to roots growing out from the tree.
- Make sure you keep up with watering during the winter — mark your calendar to water every two to three weeks.
- Mulch is good. It protects fall transplants by keeping soil warmer longer. Look for mulch with rough edges that weave together.
- Transplants and thin-bark trees may suffer from sun scald in the winter months. The trunks should be wrapped in the first few years, from about Nov. 15 to April 15, with a commercial fabric available at garden centers.
Sandra Fish writes for the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.
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