Here in California, we are lucky to have two planting seasons: spring and fall! Though we don’t get spring fever this time of year, fall is a much better time to plant, especially if you’re tackling major projects like putting in a new flower bed or border. Transplanted now, plants ease into the garden naturally. Trees, shrubs, lawns, ground covers and spring-blooming bulbs will all get established over the winter and be ready to survive their first hot summer more easily.
In the fall the soil is still warm and roots begin to grow rapidly as soon as they are planted. Cooler air temperatures put less stress on newly planted trees and shrubs, and watering needs are less. Once the rains begin, the plants receive plenty of water encouraging deep rooting as the roots continue to develop through the winter. These plants will be much more drought tolerant and not need to be watered as often next summer.
Fall is the ideal time to plant a tree — both for the gardener and the tree! The weather is cooler, so it is more enjoyable working outdoors. The tree also benefits because the soil is better able to retain moisture now than during the hot days of summer, so it becomes established easily. Trees and shrubs will show no growth above ground, but by having time to develop a strong root system over the winter, they will be ready for a major growth spurt next spring. Studies have shown that trees and shrubs planted in the fall will grow between one-and-a-half and two times as much next summer as the same tree or shrub planted next spring.
Lawns and ground covers do best when planted in the fall. The cool…
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