Grace Smith | November 3, 2022
With moderate temperatures and sufficient ground moisture, fall is a great time to plant shade trees, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said in a press release on Oct. 18. Planting in the fall gives trees extra growing time before hot summer days, and fall’s cooler temperatures allow trees to form their roots.
“Properly planted trees will have a better opportunity for a long healthy life,” Iowa DNR district forester Mark Vitosh said. “Improperly planted trees can become stressed more easily or may look otherwise healthy, but then suddenly die in the first 10 to 20 years after planting.”
The Iowa DNR offers tips to keep shade trees healthy with a long life.
- Put additional soil far from the top of the root ball — the main mass of roots at the base of a plant — to identify the first primary lateral root before digging the hole.
- The depth of the planting hole can be measured by the distance above the first lateral root to the bottom of the root ball. Health issues can arise if a hole is dug too deep.
- Remove roots growing around the root ball, as well as any roots on the bottom of the root ball.
- Dig the planting hole at least twice the width of the root ball.
- Use the soil from the initial hole to refill around the roots of the tree.
- Water the planting hole to settle the soil. Keep watering the expanding root system as the tree grows.