Tree Care Tips for Fall Planting

sun thru fall trees

There’s something festive about the changing of leaves and cinnamon spice that loom the air. The cooler weather is perfect for fall planting because the trees are better able to retain moisture.

Despite the cold, as long as you’re able to stick a spade in the ground, it’s okay to plant your trees. They will stay dormant through the season and bud in the spring. In Fact, the roots will have more time to establish themselves, allowing them to bloom more lavishly and acclimate to the warmer weather easier. Plants with an established root system better withstand heat and wind the following summer.

Additionally, Pests and diseases are less likely to inflict trees in the cooler weather. Fall is also great for pruning older trees since most of the branches will be leaf-free.

Here’s a few helpful things to know when planting in the fall:

  • If you’re not able to plant immediately don’t worry, you can store your trees in a cool, dry place for up to five days. The garage or basement are perfect.
  • If you know you won’t be able to plant your trees within a week, then consider heeling in your trees. Better yet, be proactive and pre-dig your holes before the cooler weather sets in. Store the dirt you removed from the holes in a garage or tool shed to prevent it from hardening and becoming more difficult to work with when it comes time to planting.
  • When planting in the fall it’s important to use mulch around your trees to reduce the possibility of freezing and thawing that can lead to frost heaving. Mulch has multiple benefits including preventing evaporation, water runoff, improving water penetration to the root zones and limits weed growth that may also compete for water. A two to three inch layer is most effective.
  • Avoid planting in pots, unless it is a last resort. If you are planting in a pot for the season and intend to transplant it in the spring, be sure to keep the pot indoors or in the garage.
  • One thing to note is that when you do transplant in the spring it will be important to slowly reintroduce the plants to outdoor conditions by leaving them in the pots before transplanting into the ground.
  • Snow on the ground does not mean your soil is frozen. In order to freeze, your day time low temperature has to stay below 32°F for 4-6 weeks.

The fall is a wonderful time to plant because the weather is cool and ground isn’t wet. Fall planting might sound frightening at first because of the winter months the trees have to withstand, but they’ll be in a dormant state and shouldn’t be affected. It’s also great for pruning older trees since most of the branches will be leaf-free. Check out our Tree Planting Guide for step by step instructions on planting your tree.

What trees will you be planting this fall?

Three Can’t-Miss Fall Events at Arbor Day Farm

All across Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, you’ll find plenty of fun — and that’s never been more true than in the hustle and bustle of the fall season.

Of course, there’s plenty to see and do at the Tree Adventure year round, from the 50-foot-high treehouse soaring into the tree canopy, to the interactive hands-on learning kiosks in the pavilion, to the wooden beam bridges that traverse South Table Creek, the waterway famously noted in Lewis & Clark’s diaries.

But this time of year — arguably the most special season of all for a visit — all 260 acres just come alive with a crisp fall breeze in the air, apples ripening in the orchard, and golden leaves crunching underfoot along the hiking trails. Pair all of that with a calendar full of classic fall events and activities, and you have the makings of lifelong memories.

Here’s a preview of three fall season events you won’t want to miss at Arbor Day Farm.

The infamous apple cider slushies at Arbor Day Farm.

The infamous apple cider slushies at Arbor Day Farm.

1. Applejack Festival: Sept. 18-20. This city-wide celebration of an abundant apple harvest is nominated this year as one of USA Today’s Top 10 Fall Festivals, and for good reason. During this celebration weekend, around 60,000 visitors trek to Nebraska City — including to Arbor Day Farm — to pick apples, sip cider, watch the parade, take in a classic car show, and find treasures at multiple arts & craft fairs. It’s the kind of celebration that attracts generations of families for a nostalgic trip down memory lane, with picturesque orchard scenes and plenty of fun for all. It’s not to be missed. See the complete Applejack schedule for 2015.

Tree Climbing Weekend
Tree Climbing Weekend

2. Tree Climbing Weekend: Oct. 3-4. When’s the last time you climbed a tree? Maybe when you were 10? Maybe never? Tree Climbing Weekend at Arbor Day Farm is your opportunity to harness up and shimmy your way skyward in an old oak savanna. There’s even small-scale climbing options for the younger set. Tree climbing activities are included with regular Tree Adventure admission, and it’s always a popular draw.

 

The Historic Barns at Arbor Day Farm
The Historic Barns at Arbor Day Farm

 

3. Oktoberfest Celebration: Oct. 11. Arbor Day Farm’s historic barns — carefully restored to their original beauty — are the perfect setting for classic German food, German beers, and yes — a live polka band. Lied Lodge’s Chef Thomas is himself German, so we have it on good authority that his Oktoberfest menu selections are as authentic as they come. Show up hungry and thirsty; you won’t leave disappointed.

For complete details about these upcoming events and others at Arbor Day Farm, check out the online Events Calendar.