Fall is tree season. It’s for traveling down country roads and gasping at the brilliant scarlet leaves of majestic maples and golden oaks.
But don’t just look. Grab your shovel. Fall is also a great time to plant trees.
Plant your own beauties and you can gasp in your own backyard, at pretty pink blooms in the spring and shimmering orange foliage in the fall. And in the summer? Pick your own plums.
Sure, the air is getting colder, but your garden’s soil is actually warmer now than it is in the spring. That means that with the right care, roots will happily grow right up until the ground freezes.
What trees can you plant in the fall? And how late can you plant them?
Here’s your guide:
How Late Can You Plant Trees In The Northeast?
The best time to plant trees is six weeks before the first sign of hard frost. Here in the Northeast, September and October are ideal, allowing the roots to become established before the ground freezes and winter sets in.
Don’t wait until November, when the ground could freeze.
Why Plant Trees In The Fall?
Lots of reasons. Fall has its share of rainy days, which means free drinks for your garden friends.
Trees get a bit stressed when they’re moved or planted, and fall’s cooler air is kinder to them. Plant trees in the fall and they’ll have all of the autumn to develop their root system, giving them a head start in the spring.
Fall’s cooler weather is perfect for outdoor chores. You won’t even break a sweat.
Even though it’s cool, keep newly planted trees well watered until the ground freezes so they get a good drink heading into winter dormancy.
What Trees To Plant In Fall?
Here in the Northeast, we’re lucky. So many trees to choose from including stunners that put on a spectacular show in the fall; fruit trees that offer tasty summer treats; flowering trees that make spring even more of a celebration.
Let your own taste guide you, but we’ll share some great trees to plant in the fall in the Northeast:
Trees For Spectacular Fall Color
Colorful Tree #1: Ginkgo
If you love yellow, Ginkgo is your tree. It offers up gorgeous yellow fan-shaped leaves each fall. The umbrella-shaped ginkgo tree is also great at resisting insects and disease.
Colorful Tree #2: Maple
Fall’s most famous tree offers intense red, orange and yellow leaves so stunning you may forget you were on the way to the cider mill.
The maples that make us gasp from the roadside are often huge — sugar maples can grow to 75 feet tall — but maples come in a variety of sizes, so they work in any landscape. Don’t forget the lovely, lacy-leaf Japanese maple for smaller spots.
Colorful Tree #3: Red Twig Dogwood
This great tree has it all: clusters of pretty white blooms in the spring, plum-colored fruit that attracts birds and beautiful red leaves in the fall. Bonus: ruby red stems that continue to impress once the leaves have dropped.
Here’s a tip: for the reddest stems, look for the “Arctic Fire” variety.
Love the idea of picking a piece of ripe, juicy fruit from your own garden? New dwarf, disease-resistant apples make it easy to grow high-quality fruit on 10-foot-tall, ornamental trees.
Plums and cherries grow in the Northeast, too. Get the jam jars ready:
Fruit Tree #1: Apple
Enterprise is a great apple tree for the Northeast. This bright red apple has crisp, juicy flesh and excellent flavor. It ripens in mid to late October and offers 3-inch apples that sweeten in storage. Store them in the fridge and they’ll keep their crunch for five to six months.
Other great apple trees for the Northeast include Gala, Freedom, Empire, Golden Delicious and Liberty varieties.
Fruit Tree #2: Cherries
Cherry trees produce either sweet or sour cherries. Their white blossoms bloom in the spring, followed by the pretty red cherries in the summer. Good sweet picks for the Northeast include Empire Francis, Hartland, and Stella. Prefer sour? Try Balaton or Montmorency.
Fruit Tree #3: Plums
Plum trees prefer full sun and moist soil. They bloom in the spring and form fruit in the summer. Good choices for the Northeast include Seneca, Stanley, French Damson and Early Golden.
By the time spring arrives after our frosty Northeast winters, we’re ready to rejoice. An explosion of fluffy pink or white blossoms enveloping our trees is like nature’s celebratory confetti. Here are three Northeast favorites:
Flowering Tree #1: Flowering Dogwood
There is so much to love about dogwood, especially its abundance of white or pink flowers in the spring. It also offers pretty reddish-purple leaves and glossy red fruit in the fall. Its spreading, horizontal branches offer winter interest.
Flowering Tree #2: Flowering Crabapple
Crabapples’ impressive blossoms open from pink or red buds then create a stunning, fragrant pink cloud for several weeks each spring. Asian crab apple specimens are typically most popular — their fruits are more colorful and last into the winter, providing food for grateful birds.
Flowering Tree #3: Redbud
Best known for its lovely profusion of pink flowers in the spring, redbud also offers pretty golden heart-shaped leaves in the fall. Bonus: unlike most showy trees that love sun, redbud will grow in light shade.
Let Neave Help With Your Fall Tree Planting
Too busy to hoist a shovel? Not sure what trees to choose?
Neave Landscaping’s professional arborists will help you select the ideal trees for your property, and our expert installation teams will make sure the job is done right.
Neave Landscaping pros know how late to plant trees in the fall and can recommend the best trees to plant in the Northeast. Our services include a comprehensive environmental inspection to ensure your new trees and shrubs will thrive in their new home.
Neave offers a terrific tree maintenance program. Whether it’s routine maintenance, such as pruning and trimming, or emergency services that involve disease and infestation control, we’ve got you and your trees covered.
If you’re in the Hudson Valley, call us at (845) 463-0592. If you’re in Westchester County, call (914) 271-7996; from Connecticut, dial (203) 212-4800. Or, fill out our simple web form, and we’ll contact you about setting up your free consultation.