August 15, 2022 Fall Landscape Care Guide When trees and shrubs are planted during the spring, they are still undeveloped when summer rolls around. The heat and drought of the summer are damaging to plants as is but are especially detrimental to young plants. Common effects include heat stress, scorched leaves, and stunted growth. Planting in fall provides a buffer and gives new plants more time to develop before summer. Cool, fall temperatures enable woody plants to retain more water and develop healthy root systems. Frequent precipitation supports trees and shrubs in becoming more established. Although winter may be a concern when planting in the fall, winter is actually less harsh on plants than summer. During the winter, plants go dormant similar to bears going into hibernation. As cold weather approaches, plants take an intermission in growing and conserve their energy instead. As a result of exerting less energy, plants can get by with minimal water and sugar. Woody plants develop hard outer structures to protect their living tissues and stored energy from the cold. Beneath the ground, roots continue to develop and thrive throughout the dormant season. Fall planting is beneficial up until colder weather starts to hit around October 1st. Master Fall Landscape Care In addition to planting new trees and shrubs, caring for existing landscape plants in the fall will help set them up for future success. Some vital caretaking steps include mulching, pruning, fertilizing, and watering. Mulch Fall mulch is a root system’s best friend! It helps to preserve soil moisture, subdue weed growth, and shield against erosion. Mulch also acts as a barrier between the plant’s roots and frigid temperatures. It is best practice to apply a three- to ten-foot circumference of mulch to fully cover the root system. Remove any grass from the area, apply mulch to the depth of two to four inches, and avoid touching the plant’s base with mulch. Prune Pruning is best done in late fall once outer shells have hardened and leaves have dropped. Like other living things, plants are wounded when cut and require the proper conditions to heal. Disease and invasive insects are more active during the growing season and can make it difficult for plants to heal properly. Additionally, dormant pruning boosts growth when temperatures start to rise and enhances safety. Trimming away dead or hanging branches diminishes the potential risks and hazards if they were to fall. Fertilize Fall is the optimal time to fertilize trees and shrubs as it provides them with the necessary nutrients to last throughout the winter. Fertilizer also supports strong, healthy root systems in the dormant season. It is best practice to fertilize after pruning away dead branches so plants can focus on nutrient intake. Additionally, fertilization should also take place after leaves have shed so plants have time to properly harden for the colder months. Water The final essential step for fall landscape care is watering plants to get in front of the dryness of winter. Winter watering should be done right before the ground freezes over so the water can properly seep down into the root system. Furthermore, watering landscape trees and shrubs periodically from October to April ensures they are hydrated and ready to flourish during the growing season. If you still have questions, Front Range Arborists is here to help, and we’re just a phone call away. We’ll partner with you to provide your landscape with the fall care it needs! Fill out our online form today to request a free consultation!