When is the best time of year to plant trees?

Trees add value and beauty to your home. They give you shade and protect you from the effects of too much exposure to the sun. Trees also promote natural air circulation in your home. Like other garden plants, there are certain times in which it’s best to plant trees. Read on to find when is the best time of year to plant trees.

Factors to Consider Before Planting a Tree

To understand when is the best time of year to plant trees, you need to consider several factors.

The Type of Tree

The root system is one of the factors that determines when to plant a tree. Trees with more extensive roots usually thrive in the spring. These trees include willow, tulip tree, and bald cypress.

Trees with shallow roots tend to do well in the fall. They include pines, elm, maple, and buckeye. Deciduous trees also thrive in the fall.

The Hardiness Zones

The hardiness zone also determines the best time to plant a tree. The Plant Hardiness Zones classifies the United States and Canada into various regions based on temperatures. Different plants do well in different hardiness zones. Once you identify your hardiness zone, it is easy to determine when trees will flourish in your area.

Prevailing Weather Conditions

While many people believe spring is the best time to plant trees, some experts prefer the fall planting season because it brings more advantages, including adequate moisture and cooler temperatures that promote healthy root development.

Before planting trees, you might want to consider the previous year’s weather and the forecast for the next month. If temperatures dropped or spiked sharply during a season, it’s best to plant in another season.

Overall Climate

The annual climate in your location is another factor to consider when deciding when to plant trees. If you are in a warm region, it’s best to plant in the fall because it minimizes the chances of a heatwave killing your tree.

Early spring is an ideal time to plant if your region is colder. In spring, you don’t have to worry about sharp temperature drops that would harm your tree.

Planting Trees in the Spring

Many professionals prefer planting trees in the spring. Spring planting allows nurseries to provide a wider variety of trees than in the fall. It also allows your trees to grow all summer and get established before winter arrives.

After planting, it doesn’t take long for leaves to develop and provide food for the tree all summer. Spring is especially ideal for planting bare rootstock. Most encapsulated or container-grown trees do well in any growing season, but greatly benefit when planted in the spring.

Spring planting means that your tree will need to develop new roots and leaves simultaneously. Both processes utilize sugar reserves stored in the roots and stems. Therefore, trying to establish roots and stems concurrently can overwhelm the plant and undermine both processes.

These growth processes also require plenty of water, so the tree can have a hard time getting sufficient water because it is still developing. Some newly planted trees even shed some leaves shortly after planting because the water they’re absorbing can’t support all the leaves.

Planting Trees in the Fall

As we observed earlier, many experts prefer to plant trees in the fall. In the fall, trees get an extra growing season before the hardships of summer. The cool temperatures and fall rain promote healthy root development, making it easier for the trees to adapt to extreme temperatures or drought in the summer.

During this season, trees can develop new roots without the need to feed the leaves. Without leaves, plants require much less water to grow, allowing them to create a proper root system to collect adequate water and nutrients for the leaves.

The major downside of the fall planting season is that there usually is a limited selection of trees. However, as fall planting is gaining popularity, some nurseries have started providing more varieties of trees.

Another great reason to plant in the fall is that tree prices are relatively low. However, it is a good idea not to buy trees that have been in the nursery all summer and suffered from the heat.

Evergreens vs. Deciduous

The main difference between evergreen and deciduous trees is deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall. On the other hand, evergreens (also called coniferous trees) retain their leaves all year long. While evergreen foliage eventually drops, the trees maintain their full shape for a prolonged period.

Once deciduous trees lose their foliage, their water requirements reduce significantly. While the trees still require water for root development, it is much less than what leaves need. It’s best to plant deciduous trees in the fall due to the low water requirement in winter.

Evergreens, on the other hand, have hardy leaves that look like long, thin needles, which allows these trees to conserve water. Because they have more water than their deciduous counterparts, their leaves stay green and remain intact longer.

The evergreen leaves also have a waxy coating, which helps conserve water during summer and winter. However, these trees eventually lose water in winter. The roots can’t collect adequate water due to the frozen ground, leading to browning or drying of needles in spring. Therefore, fall planting is not ideal for evergreens, especially the broad-leafed types. 

“Early spring is an ideal time to plant if your region is colder. In spring, you don’t have to worry about sharp temperature drops that would harm your tree.”

Why You Shouldn’t Plant Trees in Summer and Winter

Newly planted trees struggle to survive intense heat; therefore, high temperatures in summer aren’t favorable for actively growing plants. 

You also have limited options in the winter. The ground freezes during this season, making it difficult to dig and plant your trees. It’s possible to plant trees in winter if you do your digging before the ground freezes, but you’ll need to provide the trees with adequate water. 

It’s best to avoid planting early-to-mid winter. The roots can’t absorb the snow’s moisture in winter until the snow melts and the ground thaws. Winter can bring arid conditions, which is why it is essential to give your trees sufficient water in the fall. 

Final Thoughts

To know when is the best time of the year to plant trees, you have to consider factors such as tree type, hardiness zone, and weather conditions. Generally, fall and spring are the best times to plant because they offer favorable conditions for growth and development. Summer and winter seasons are not ideal for tree planting due to extreme temperatures and inadequate water.

If you’re unsure about when to plant trees in your area, it’s best to seek professional help. A professional arborist can evaluate your location and advise you on the best times to plant trees and care for them. That’s where Tree Menders come in. 

At Tree Menders, we take great pride in our extensive experience, high-quality work, and exceptional customer service when it comes to tree care.

Whether you need help with tree planting or any other professional tree care service, call us today or email us to speak to our experts and request a quote.