We don't do much commercial work. On occasion we do get a call from a business owner that wants help with their landscape, and that's just what happened last week.
There was a real estate closing that was contingent on planting several large trees. We were asked to provide a quote to plant the trees in June.
I informed them that we could still plant trees this time of year, and that I would prefer to plant them now rather than in June.
They were shocked.
That gave me the idea for this post.
It may seem a bit backwards to plant in the winter rather than in the spring, but trees really benefit from late season planting and here's why:
Technically speaking, planting a tree is a form of transplanting. These large trees that are balled and burlap (or B&B as we in the green industry refer to them) and are frequently semi-planted by being mulched in. When you plant them, you are changing their environment. Chances are they've been in the same nursery for at least a few years.
Transplanting any plant - let alone a a tree- is stressful for them. If you've ever moved, just think of how stressful it is on you, and humans are one of the most adaptable species on the planet.
The tree then has to leaf out in the spring which requires a tremendous amount of energy.
Then, as in recent years, there is summer drought. Trees really undergo a tremendous amount of stress when conditions aren't optimal, let alone transplanting.
If you plant a tree during the dormant season - which is really almost any time from late September to late March, it gives the root system time to adjust to new surroundings. During this time, large trees (our root ball was about 3' wide by 3' tall) are focusing their energy on growing their root system.The ground in Connecticut, especially along the shoreline, isn't frozen that deep down. The tree stores all it's energy over the winter in the rootball.
When spring rolls around and it's time for bud-break, the tree has already adapted to it's surroundings. It can then use all it's energy to leaf out, rather than leaf out and deal with transplant shock at the same time. A nice layer of mulch helps insulate the rootball from the fluctuating temperatures that are common along Connecticut's shoreline.
We always plant trees with Gator Bags (which is a slow-release watering bag for trees), but nothing compares to Mother Nature's water. In the heart of summer, when drought in Connecticut inevitably rolls around, the tree is already adjusted to it's surroundings and has recovered from the stress of transplanting and leafing out. The tree can then focus all it's energy on summer recovery after the drought has passed.
By planting trees in the winter, you can ease your tree into it's new surroundings with less stress.