It seems like fall is late to arrive this year. Finally after Saturday's storms there has been a rapid increase in fall color throughout the Ozarks.
The cold morning air gave me a sudden rush of energy, driving me to spend this past weekend working outside preparing garden beds for the spring planting season, planting "Dutch master" daffodils, putting away my garden's irrigation system, amending a garden bed and watching a couple of deer amidst a forest of dogwoods enviously eying the lush foliage of my perennial garden safe within the protection of an electric fence.
So much can be done in your backyard in the fall, including planting trees, that it can be hard to decide where to start.
Hank Stelzer, University of Missouri associate professor of forestry extension, personally recommends planting trees in home landscapes in the fall, giving "time for the planting hole to seal up and [the] roots [to] grow during the winter months."
If proper care is taken, limiting transplant stress to and from the nursery, preparing a hole for planting, mulching the surface and providing adequate irrigation, newly planted trees can take root in your yard and grow healthy and strong for years to come.
The following are a few tips to help ensure successful planting:
When preparing a site for planting, it is first important to find out if your soil is well drained or compacted and full of clay.
When planting in poorly drained sites, the Missouri Department of Conservation recommends mounding trees half way above the soil surface to increase the drainage of the site.
Sometimes soil can be amended with a little organic matter to increase drainage. When planting, up to 20 percent of the soil used to fill in the planting hole around the tree can be from decomposed organic matter such as compost, improving the soil structure.
Typically when planting a tree, the burlap root ball or the base of the root zone of a pot or bare root stock should be planted to allow the top of the first root "flare" to be slightly above the soil's surface.
Planting trees higher, and slightly above the soil's surface, will prevent the tree's roots from encircling the trunk in the near future.
Disturbing a layer of soil underneath the base of the tree will cause the soil to shift the tree and disrupt the proper planting depth. The wider the hole prepared, the more it allows the tree roots to grow horizontally through the surface layers of soil. The University of Missouri Extension recommends the width be "3 times the diameter" of the root zone at planting.
After planting, trees should be watered slowly to allow for the water to thoroughly saturate the soil profile (biweekly until established), and the trees should be mulched with 2-3 inches of hardwood bark mulch to help conserve moisture in the root zone yet be loose enough for proper soil aeration. Be careful to leave a gap between the mulch and the tree trunk.
Page 2 of 2 - For a more extensive list of tree planting tips, see the MU Extension publication: "How to plant a tree" available online through http://extension.missouri. edu/p/G6850.
If choosing a tree for your lawn, try planting a native. Always start by choosing a healthy nursery stock. Trees recommended for fall planting include balled and burlapped, and container grown trees.
There are so many trees native to Missouri. There is one to fit every backyard environment. You too can enjoy the beauty of Missouri woodland in the fall from the comfort of your back porch.