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Landscaping - Planting

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While spring is a popular planting season, fall may be the best time to plant. Fall planting can help woody ornamental plants survive in the landscape. In fall, plant shoots need fewer nutrients because winter dormancy is approaching. In fall too, carbohydrate plant “food” is produced in leaves and moves to roots, which helps plant growth and survival. Importantly, roots continue to grow until soil temperatures drop below 45-50 F (7-10 C). It is extremely important to water when planting in fall because October and November are usually very dry months with little rainfall. But fallplanted plants also will not need as much summer irrigation as ornamental plants installed in spring. So, while there are more choices for plant material at most garden centers in spring, fall root growth provides a tremendous advantage over the spring-planted ornamentals if irrigation is not available or in drought and extreme heat. A large number of plants are killed between leaving the nursery and being planted in the landscape because of mishandling. Start by avoiding windburn and plant desiccation and cover plants with a tarp during transport. Other best management practices for transporting, handling and planting these plants will help reduce homeowner and contractor losses. Keep in mind that recommendations change with time. Our knowledge in two critical areas has improved over the last few years: 1) the size and depth of the planting hole, and 2) use of soil amendments in backfill soil.

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