Spring is almost here, and nurseries will soon be filled with new plants. Gardeners get enthusiastic about planning for spring. If you are thinking of planting a tree, is spring the best time to do it? This is a simple question with a complicated answer. Experts in gardening and professional tree service have different opinions on the matter. Ultimately, the best time of year to plant a tree depends on the climate where you live, the type of tree involved, and the work you are willing to put into it.
Spring and Autumn Versus Summer and Winter
One matter on which the experts agree is that if you are going to plant a new tree, you should choose a time during which it will not be exposed to temperature extremes of either heat or cold. In other words, spring and fall are almost always better than either summer or winter. In northern areas and colder climates, planting a tree in the winter would be next to impossible anyway due to the frozen ground. In milder climates, it may be possible to plant a tree in the winter but not necessarily advisable.
Coniferous Versus Deciduous
The type of tree that you want to plant can make a big difference as to the time of year. As a general rule, deciduous trees do better when planted in the fall, while coniferous trees do better in the spring. Why? A newly planted tree needs to develop a new root system as quickly as possible. To do this, it needs plenty of water and energy from the sugar reserves stored in the roots. However, the same resources go toward producing leaves. If you plant a deciduous tree in the spring, it may have trouble establishing a root system while trying to produce leaves. While its root system remains limited, it may have trouble getting enough water. However, if you plant a deciduous tree in the autumn after the leaves have fallen, it can devote its resources almost entirely toward developing roots.
The opposite holds true for conifers. Because they keep their needles all year, fall planting does not necessarily do them any favours. Even a well-established evergreen loses water during the winter when the ground is frozen. For a young tree with a limited root system, it can be difficult to get enough water. As a result, by the spring, the needles may die.
This general rule does not necessarily hold true with all species. Willows and birches, as well as certain species of magnolias and dogwoods, are all deciduous trees, yet they do better when planted in the spring because they need time to establish a root system.
Fruit trees, such as apples or pears, are a different matter. The best time to plant them depends on the climate where you live. If you reside in an area where the winter tends to be milder, warmer, and wetter, it is better to plant them in the fall. However, if the winters tend to be cold where you live, spring planting is preferable for fruit trees.
Weather Versus Water
Temperature extremes of hot or cold can do a number on newly planted trees. It bears repeating that new trees need lots of water to establish sufficient roots. The moisture they get from rain may not be enough. You should be prepared to water any new trees you plant on a regular basis for the first six months. You should also provide a layer of mulch, especially if you plant trees in the fall, which helps to keep the ground moist.
Consult a Professional Tree Service
Once a tree has been planted and has established its root system, it needs regular maintenance to keep it healthy and beautiful. Find out more about full tree services, including pruning, from Martin’s Tree Service Inc.