Fall is the perfect time to plant a tree

 Fall is the perfect time to plant a tree

FISHERSVILLE—If you think spring is the only time to do major work in your yard, you just may be surprised. Fall is actually the perfect time to work on landscaping.

"Fall is an excellent time for planting," said horticulturist Mark Viette, host of a gardening segment on Down Home Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s monthly television program. "It is for sure one of the most ideal times to plant trees and shrubs, because the plants aren’t as stressed by the heat and soon become dormant."

Planting in cooler weather produces root growth that will be ready to take up water in the spring.

Trees are available in containers or with the root ball wrapped in burlap.

"With the balled-and-burlapped trees, you need to plant them wider instead of deeper," Viette said. "The general rule of thumb is to dig a hole wider as opposed to deeper. If you had a 1-foot (diameter) container or burlapped tree, you need to dig a hole that is 2 feet wide. If you don’t do this, and plant too deep, the plant will stress and sink over time."

Tree roots typically grow in the upper 12 to 18 inches of soil, and they spread out two to three times as wide as a tree’s canopy, Viette said.

Also, be sure to plant a balled-and-burlapped tree with the burlap on, Viette said. "When you remove the burlap you run the risk of damaging the root ball. You don’t want to drop them on the ground, or you will stress the root system. Once you plant your tree, cut the burlap around the top." Peel it back, and drop the excess material into the bottom of the hole. Fill in the hole around the plant with the same soil that came out of it.

When mulching around newly planted trees, "I prefer pine straw or pine bark," Viette said. "Pine mulches stay around longer and do not allow weed growth."

Contact Viette at 540-476-0156 or Sherri McKinney, VFBF senior video producer, at 804-290-1148.

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