Fall is a Good Time to Plant Your Garden or Re-Landscape
- Post author By Tim Thornton
- Postdate 10-15-2021
In recent years, you may have heard the saying “Fall is for Planting.” We assure you this is not a plea from your local nursery to gain more customers during a slow time of year for business. While most people think of spring as planting time – avid landscapers know fall is the best season to plant many trees, shrubs and hardy perennials. When we take a closer look at the relationships between plant growth and weather, we realize that we want the plants to be established/rooted in and ready for optimum growth in the spring.
Plants Focus on Root Growth in the Fall
As the fall starts, many of the plants in our landscapes rebound from the toils of summer. Fall is a time of rejuvenation in the garden – our roses begin blooming again and our tomatoes abundantly set fruit. New blossoms make their mark on the landscape as the fall palette takes hold. Plants rejoice in the cooler nights, damper soils and returned rains. This shift in weather allows plants to get back to the business of growing.
The cooler temperatures reduce plant stress and are ideal for root growth, allowing newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials to quickly establish their root structures. It is an interesting fact that plants can develop roots if soil temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This includes much of the fall and winter months throughout Southern California, which means plants installed in autumn have several months of active root growth during the dormant season. When warmer temperatures arrive in the spring, plants put their energy into growth – rather than setting root – and get a good hold before the heat of summer returns.
What to Plant in Fall?
Not all plants benefit from fall planting. Research shows early fall planting is best for container-grown and ball-and-burlap shade and ornamental trees and pines. But, spring is best for planting bare-root plants and broadleaf evergreens, such as holly and boxwood. However, many containerized plants may be planted any time if handled properly. These are the majority of the plants found at our local nurseries. One of the main reasons fall-planted broadleaf evergreens fail is due to water stress – the green leaves are exposed to dry winds all winter long and continue to lose water, yet many landscapers forget to irrigate plants during the winter months. For success with fall plantings of any type, be sure to water regularly throughout the winter to keep roots and soil moist.
While we often fertilize plants or amend soil during spring planting, we should also fertilize in the fall to encourage root stimulation. The same is true for fertilizing woody trees and shrubs during the fall to encourage root growth. Fertilization and pruning encourage new growth and new growth encourages new root structure to develop before cold temperatures arrive. New succulent growth can be damaged as temperatures drop below freezing due to their high-water content, so often it is better to wait until springtime to plant succulents. Replete the process in spring – fertilizing plants again in the spring, and prune as needed during winter dormancy will give you the optimum looking garden.
Choosing Plants with Fall Foliage Color
Not only is fall a great time to establish plants, it is also ideal for selecting trees and shrubs for fall color. If you are looking for a shade tree or shrub known for fall foliage or if you are not sure exactly what plant you want, wait until plants reveal their fall colors. This will assist you in selecting the most vibrant specimen. Visiting the garden center in the fall will also allow fall-blooming shrubs and perennials you may have passed over in the springtime to shine. This is a great way to identify plants of seasonal interest to showcase in your garden.
Trees that you should plant in the fall
Apple, Citrus, Fig, Avocado, Pomegranate, Plum, Pear, Apricot, Etc.
Pines, Cedars, Spruce, Podocarpus, Ficus, Oaks, Ash, Palms, Melaleuca, Pepper, Etc.
Maple, Liquid Amber, Oaks, Elms, Beech, Aspens, Birch, Sycamores, Gingko, Etc.
Plant that Hedge now:
Ficus, Podocarpus, Eugenia, Ligustrum, Carolina Cherries, Etc.
Why you want to Relandscape in the fall
Soil is moist
Water is plentiful
Temperature is cool or mild