When Is the Best Time to Plant a Tree? A Definitive Guide

The desire to look after and cultivate our gardens is an intrinsically human one that brings great satisfaction to many. The benefits are countless as not only our sense of accomplishment increases but even property prices are shown to go up by keeping our grounds well kept.

That being said even the most green-fingered among us have experienced the disappointment of when plants and trees don’t blossom and thrive as we hope they would. One factor that could be hindering our growing process can be something as simple as when we decide to plant our trees.

When Is the Best Time to Plant a Tree
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So when is the best time to plant a tree?

By the end of this post, we will have broken down the facts so that you will be equipped to ensure success in your gardening.

What a Tree Needs to Flourish

In order to get to the bottom of this, we first need to understand the growing process so we can easily deduce what type of environment our tree is asking for.

One key element that can give us a clue is transpiration.

The process of transpiration is vital in the progression of plant development. This is when water, drawn up from the roots, provide vital nourishment that reaches the leaves and eventually evaporates into the air.

Transpiration is quite labor-intensive for trees and weather can have a major effect on how effective a tree is at it.

In hotter climates, the process is increased, meaning your tree is working hard to make sure that all the water is able to reach its extremities.

This may sound great but when you trying to ensure that your tree doesn’t wilt over time you want its focus to be on developing strong roots, which is key to its survival. Therefore planting during a hot summer can immediately be discounted.

If you do ever need to plant in summer, one trade secret apart from regular watering is to regularly trim away any new buds and growth you see. Why would this help?

New growth is evidence that your tree isn’t using it’s valuable early days for root cultivation. The more you prevent it from expending energy above ground, the more that hard work is happening below.

Cold weather also has an adverse effect on this process. The notable slow growth in the wintertime is due to trees going into survival mode as transpiration rates reduce greatly.

So we can discount the seasons of summer and winter as prime times to get into your gardens which I’m sure won’t disappoint you. Summertimes are when your garden should be enjoyed and inactivity in colder climes is welcomed.

That “leaves” us with to prime candidates, spring and autumn. But who takes the final prize?



The Case for Planting in Spring

The biggest advantage to planting in spring doesn’t come from anything to do with the plant world but from you.

Taking care of a garden takes hard work and whether it be the return of our sunny skies or knowing that it is a time of bloom, most people have renewed energies in spring. This means that gardening comes more as a relief and less of a chore as it would after summer.

Most garden centers, knowing that this is their busiest time for clientele tend to have a wider array of trees for you to choose from in springtime.

This being said late snowfall and earlier heatwaves have meant that spring is less predictable and often seemingly shorter each passing year. With root development crucial it means your trees may be unable to take root and provide the stability and support structure needed to provide enough nutrients during the summer months.

If you do wish to take advantage of the spring high, it is best to plant earlier in the season.

When Is the Best Time to Plant a Tree? Why Autumn Is Our Winner

Even though Autumn seems to be a time when things seem to slow down in the natural world in preparation for winter, for root growth it is a vigorous time of activity.

This is because the climate changes to a more agreeable temperature and most trees lose their leaves. Deciduous trees in shedding their leaves allow for its energies, once split, to now focus solely on the world beneath our feet.

In addition, Autumn is often a time of high humidity without the high temperatures, meaning better hydration for your tree.

Once roots have been established, when winter hits your tree should have grown deep enough roots to ensure that survival is not a problem.

To make best of the season a good time to plant is in early October. This allows for a healthy 6 weeks of growth before the cold weather sets in.

A quick note on what to look for when buying at this time of year. It is important to ensure that you are choosing healthy trees, so look for ones that have good structure and are free of disease. You also want to avoid ones that have dead leaves or broken branches.

In fact, unhealthy trees, in general, can be damaging to your whole garden so it is worth getting the professionals in if you want to get it done. Read the full info here.

How to Plant a Tree

So now it is clear when we would encourage you to do your planting, we now move onto what you should do with it once you return from the garden center.

Normally you will find trees packed in three ways: Bare roots, burlap sacks, and in containers. In the case of container and burlap sack trees, you want to take away some of the soil to check the roots and spread them slightly.

New trees do not to be dug too deeply, however, you don’t want any roots showing. The space around your tree should be approximately 2 to 3 times wider than the root ball. You also want to ensure that your tree is not leaning but solidly set before backfilling it with soil.

This is slightly more complicated in bare-root trees, so it may be advantageous to create a mound of soil in the hole to set the tree on to give it the support it needs.

Once your tree is set, pat the area down but not too forcefully, as doing so would hinder water seeping through. Then healthily water the area and you should be on your way to seeing your pride and joy flourishing in your garden.

Getting to the Root of the Matter

An old Chinese proverb states “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

While this may be true in a philosophical sense, in reality, if someone were to ask you “When is the best time to plant a tree?” and you answer any time other than autumn, they may face some challenges.

We hope this clear information will prove to be useful for you and that your trees will continue to flourish and thrive long into the future!

Help others out by sharing this information with any other green fingers friends you may have and be sure to check out the other useful tips found on this blog.

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