Fall Tree Planting Tips

Choose the Right Type & Spot


If the beauty of autumn leaves has you pining for more trees, you’re in luck! Fall is a wonderful time to plant. Follow these fall tree planting tips and enjoy the new addition to your yard for years to come.

Buying the Right Tree

This may be the right time of year to plant, but you still want to do your research and make sure you’re getting the right kind of tree. Keep the following things in mind when choosing:

  1. Environment. Not all plants thrive in all climates. While it may be easy to buy your favorite tree online, make sure this tree can survive in your area. It’s best to buy local. Nurseries will typically sell what’s good to grow in your zip code.
  2. Size. Consider how large the full-size tree will be, then plan accordingly. If you have a small yard or want to plant something relatively close to a structure, make sure it won’t eventually tower over it.
  3. Placement. Before you dig any holes to plant, take a look around. Do you see power lines, roofs, underground utility access? If so, don’t plant near these areas. As plants grow, so do their root system, so you don’t want any obstacles above or below the ground. You also want to plant the tree in the area where it gets enough sun and soil drainage.

Now that you know the type of tree you want, you also have some options when it comes to how they’re offered at the nurseries.

  • Bare-root trees are grown in a field and then dug up in the spring or fall while they’re leafless. This is another reason why fall is a perfect time to plant because you could get a freshly packed tree. It’s also easy to assess the root health of this type of tree.
  • Container trees start in pots with potting soil. It’s harder to assess root health without taking it out of its container. But you’ll want to try to see if the roots are thick and tangled.
  • Balled-and-burlapped trees usually come from clay soil. A ball of soil remains around the root before it’s wrapped with burlap for transport. The delicate ball is also heavy, which is why you’ll most likely only find this kind of tree at your local nursery and not shipped.

Fall Tree Planting Tips

When you plant a tree in the fall, it has plenty of time to establish its root system before winter. The roots start growing as soon as it’s planted and continue until temperatures drop below 40-degrees. The warm soil is also ideal for digging the perfect plant hole. You don’t have to worry about frozen, muddy, or crumbly soil since it’s had all spring and summer to marinate.

Once you have the tree and the spot picked out, it’s time to start digging into this fine, moist soil and get that tree in the ground.

To properly plant the tree:

  1. Dig the right-sized hole. Give the roots room to grow in a hole that’s twice the diameter of the root ball and deep enough so it’s standing at ground level or higher.
  2. Prepare the roots for planting by pruning any damaged or black shoots. Untangle any roots you can and spread them out on a mound of soil at the bottom of the hole. Throw more soil in on top to help steady the plant.
  3. Lightly fill soil in around the tree, working it up with your fingers. Don’t pack it in too tight, but don’t leave any air pockets. Help prevent this by adding some water about halfway through your fill. Let it soak in before adding more soil.
  4. Add a few inches of mulch, wood chips, or straw a few inches away from the trunk. This acts as insulation.
    If necessary, help prevent wind and pest damage by staking with padded wire or wrapping the trunk with a specially designed cloth. This is a temporary solution. You’ll want to remove the wrap in the spring.
  5. Water the tree well by slowly soaking the ground regularly throughout the first growing season.

Tree Planting Pros

If you’re eager to plant this season, but not sure where to start, contact Elite Tree Care. From picking the perfect tree and spot to maintaining it throughout the year, we can help your newly planted tree grow and thrive for years to come.