Fall Tree Care Tips
As the season changes to fall, your garden’s summer bloom is fading, and winter will arrive soon. The trees in your garden are preparing for the winter season, and you will see their colorful leaves falling soon.
Although your trees and shrubs are almost done with their yearly work, you still have some responsibilities. Keep reading to discover what you can do to help your trees this autumn.
WATER IS IMPORTANT
To ensure the long-term health of your deciduous trees and preserve their beautiful fall colors, it’s important to prevent heat and drought stress. Even though these trees will naturally shed their leaves, stress can harm their roots and internal systems. Stressed trees are more susceptible to leaf damage, and leaves can turn brown and fall prematurely rather than exhibiting vibrant hues.
In case of warm temperatures and absence of rain, it is advised to keep watering the trees. If the fall happens to be dry and hot, it is best to irrigate the trees and wait for regular rainfall and cooler weather before turning off the irrigation system.
If there is no rainfall or it’s inconsistent, and the days are still warm or hot, and the nights are cool but there hasn’t been a freeze, and the soil still has warmth and can absorb water easily, continue watering your trees into the fall.
When fall comes and it gets colder and rainier, your trees will stop growing. At that point, you should empty your garden hoses and switch off your irrigation system. Remember to get rid of any water that’s still in the system!
TIME TO PLANT!
To ensure a healthy tree in the long run, pick a species suitable for both your property and New York’s climate. Choose a tree that’s native or adjusted to the state’s climate and soil, as it will thrive better, look good, and require less maintenance. A robust and healthy tree is more resilient to pests and diseases.
If you want to have dependable fall foliage, you can select a new tree from our collection of trees that boast the most impressive fall colors. Alternatively, if you would like to plant trees that are native to your area, you can refer to Rutgers’ list of native trees and plants.
Congratulations on planting a new tree in your neighborhood! No matter which species you choose, it will provide important habitat and shelter for birds and wildlife during the winter. Trees offer many benefits for both humans and the environment.
Plant in the Right Location
It is important to know the requirements of a tree or shrub for sunlight, soil type, drainage, and watering before planting it in a specific spot. Just because we desire to grow a plant in a certain location doesn’t necessarily mean it’s appropriate for it.
Make sure you understand how big the tree will get when it’s fully grown, as it can be larger than you anticipate. Remember that roots also take up a lot of room and can cause significant harm if the tree is not properly positioned. It’s also essential to choose a tree that is the right size for its location because it will need less pruning as it grows older, which will save you money and reduce the tree’s stress.
Closely Watch Newly-Planted Trees
If you have newly-planted or young trees, be prepared to provide extra care while waiting for colder weather. These trees have small, underdeveloped root systems and are limited in finding water and nutrients. Especially the trees you planted last fall or this spring are susceptible to water stress and heat. So, make sure to provide proper care, otherwise, their long-term growth can be affected.
JUST SAY NO
Stop Fertilizing Late Fall
During fall, your garden and trees start preparing for the winter by entering a state of dormancy. To ensure that they enter this stage in a healthy state, it is recommended that you stop fertilizing them, especially with fertilizers that are rich in nitrogen.
Using fertilizers rich in nitrogen and phosphorus can cause your trees to produce new green leaves and buds, which is a natural reaction. However, it is not advisable to promote new growth during the end of fall.
It’s not recommended to give nitrogen or phosphorus fertilizer to your trees at this time. Your trees have stored energy reserves for the winter, which can be disrupted by fertilizing. If you fertilize, your trees will use those stored reserves to grow new leaves which will die in the first freeze. This will result in a waste of the energy the trees have stored.
Encouraging new growth during late autumn will deprive your trees of vital energy needed for surviving the dormant period and restarting their growth in the coming spring.
Providing fertilizer in September and October before the leaves start to change color and drop can give your trees the extra nutrients they need to survive winter in good health.
To make your fall garden tasks less overwhelming, create a schedule and begin them early. This way, you can easily handle each task separately instead of leaving everything for the last minute. Below are our recommended tasks for your fall garden.
- It’s important to regularly clean up your yard by removing falling leaves and other debris such as twigs, fruit, or cones. If you have a compost pile, turn it and add in the green waste. You can also collect the leaves to be picked up. However, any garden waste that is diseased and may have fungal spores, bacteria, or destructive insects should be thrown in the garbage instead of being left to overwinter and potentially emerge again in the spring.
- To support the growth of new leaves and flowers for your trees, you can add compost around the dripline. This will enrich the soil without promoting immediate growth, as the compost will break down slowly over the winter. This will provide nutrients for the roots to access easily when the trees come out of dormancy.
- It is recommended to add wood chip mulch around your trees and regularly top it up because it breaks down into the soil. Mulching insulates and regulates soil temperature, which protects the trees’ roots from freezing temperatures in winter. To get the best results, add organic wood mulch on top of a layer of compost.
- Inspect your trees for pests during the fall season. If you observe egg cases or insect larvae that will overwinter, get rid of them and throw them away in the trash. By doing so, you prevent them from hatching in the spring and damaging your garden. As an illustration, the Spotted Lanternfly females lay eggs during the fall, and those eggs will hatch in May. Therefore, autumn is an appropriate time to search for egg masses and remove them.
- It’s recommended to examine your trees for any signs of damage. This includes checking for branches that are overgrown, cracked, split, hanging, or rotten. Make a list of these damaged branches so that you can remove them safely when the tree becomes dormant. If damaged branches are not removed, there is a risk that they could break or fall during winter storms or when subjected to heavy snow or ice loads.
Don’t Prune Yet
It is recommended to wait until winter dormancy before doing any significant pruning, except in cases where there are tree branches that pose an immediate danger which should be removed as soon as possible. Pruning during the fall season, like late fall fertilization, can encourage new growth that may not survive the cold weather and also consume the tree’s essential energy reserves.
Preparing your winter tree protection materials is important during fall, just like how we take out our winter wardrobes. This includes using burlap wraps and wire mesh to safeguard your trees and shrubs from freezing temperatures that can cause bark to crack, road salt in rainwater or melted ice that can burn evergreen leaves and increase soil salinity, and foraging winter animals that can gnaw on tree bark and roots.
To protect your trees during winter, wrap them after the temperatures have cooled and the spray irrigation has been turned off. Avoid using layers of burlap as it can trap moisture and cause fungal growth on trunks, branches, or evergreen foliage. Remember to finish winter tree protection tasks before the ground freezes or the temperature drops below freezing. Lastly, don’t forget to remove the wraps before spring temperatures rise and the ice melts.
We have the experience and readiness to assist you with your trees. Our services include winter pruning and trimming to promote healthy growth, as well as removal of any branches – big or small – that may fall during a winter storm. Additionally, if you’re considering planting a new tree in your garden this fall, we offer planting services. Contact us for tree service if you’re in the Rochester area!