Many people think that once fall rolls around, the planting season is over. But September is a actually great time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. There’s an old proverb we like to recite this time of year - “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is right now!”
When planting during the fall, you’ll be more focused on cultivating a deep root system than encouraging top growth. And the fall climate - with cooler air, but warm soil temperatures - is perfect for this. Here are four ways you can help your establish your new tree before the winter and help it’s roots run strong and healthy and deep.
Mix in Colorado’s Choice B.O.S.S., or another organic compost amendment about half and half with your existing soil. This will not only improve the soil's physical structure (breaking up clay, increasing water circulation, etc.) but it will also provide all kinds of rich organic material for your new tree.
We always think it’s a good idea to add a little starter food to give your new plants a boost, and that goes double for the fall. One of the best around is Espoma’s Bio-Tone Plant Starter. Bio-Tone is an all-natural plant food with mychorriaze, microorganisms that attach to the root systems of plants and help promote larger root masses so plants establish fast. Just mix in the directed amount with the new soil
Consistent water is crucial to strong root development. The best way to know how much water the tree needs is to use The Ol’ Finger Test. Just stick your finger into the soil up to your second knuckle, about two inches deep. If it feels wet at the depth, let the soil drain and check back the following day. If the soil feels dry, give the tree a long, deep soaking. Keep watering regularly right up until the ground freezes. Even once the leaves drop, regular water will help the tree’s roots thrive.
Adding a layer of mulch is wise anytime of year and it helps even more during the fall. Mulch can help regulate soil temperature and moisture - two of the key elements for root growth. This creates a constant, even environment for the new roots to develop.
With a little extra care, your new trees will emerge in the spring with a fully established roots system leading to stronger, healthier and bigger growth!