The gardening season isn't over once fall arrives, especially when it comes to trees. Fall is an excellent time for planting most trees. Many fruits and nuts are ripening now. It's also important to do your fall tree care now to prepare them for winter.
Most trees can be planted in fall. The temperatures are cooler, stressing the trees less and allowing them a better chance to get their roots established. It also helps that by this time in the growing season, some places discount their plant stock.
Special Care For Young Trees
Young trees are especially susceptible to the temperature changes that come with winter in cold climates. They are usually not developed enough to withstand the constant freezing and thawing that may occur.
One way to help combat this is with a thick (3-6")mulch layer. Do not put it right up against the trunk - this can cause moisture buildup that attracts fungus. You can use bark chips or leaves. Put this mulch layer down once the ground has frozen.
Another way is to wrap the trunk with burlap or tree wrap up to the lowest branch. This will also help protect the tree from salt spray from roads.
At the beginning of autumn, stop watering until the leaves fall from the trees. Once they fall, water your trees until the ground freezes so they will have enough water to live through the winter drought.
Watch for signs that your trees need fertilization. Some signs that may indicate a nutrient problem are:
- Reduced growth in branches and leaves.
- Yellow or pale green leaves (in those trees that do not turn yellow in fall).
- Leaves changing colors and falling earlier than usual.
Fertilizing in fall can cause rapid new growth, which could be damaged in winter. Consider fertilizing in spring if possible.
Make sure to remove the 3 D's - dead, diseased or damaged. They all serve as points where diseases or pests could enter. Removing them will also make the tree look better. You can also prune branches that aren't growing the way you would like.
Do thin rather than shear on flowering trees - prune lightly because next year's flower buds have already been formed, and heavy pruning would affect the next spring's flower production.
Fruits and Nuts to Harvest
- Citrus fruits
- Figs in California
- Black walnuts
- Hickory nuts