You can plant trees in spring, but fall planting has its advantages because there is more moisture in the soil and higher humidity.
“This gives the root system a better chance to get established so it can be ready to get growing earlier in spring,” said provincial agroforestry specialist Toso Bozic. In early spring, the soil is often dry and there is little humidity in the air.”
There are several steps to consider prior to planting trees in the fall.
“When it comes to picking a tree species, many rural owners are very familiar with shelterbelt tree species selection,” said Bozic. “However, they may be less familiar with tree or shrub species that are not designed for shelterbelts, and with species generally grown in urban areas. Tree species diversity is crucial for the health and well-being of your yard or shelterbelt.”
A variety of trees and shrubs species can be found in urban areas including ones that, in theory, should not be grown here at all due to Alberta’s harsh climate conditions.
“However, they are doing just fine in our cities and towns, and provide great beauty and diversity alongside our native tree and shrubs species,” he said. “A quick look around cities and towns may give you some ideas for what to plant.”
Another advantage to fall planting is end-of-season sales at nurseries and retailers that sell trees. But make sure a bargain is what it seems.
“If you buy trees in the typical black container stock that comes in various sizes, always inspect them prior to buying,” said Bozic. “Check for any broken branches, weak branch crotches, signs of insect or disease, irregular shapes, and, most importantly, for a bound root system. If you see the roots already coming out of the container, most likely the root system is bound which can create future problems. If you see the roots are excessively bound or the tree is damaged — simply don’t buy it.”
When selecting a planting site, pay attention to soil, moisture, slope, exposure, and physical barriers like a house, fence, or power lines. To avoid future problems, make sure to see mature trees of that species before choosing the planting site, said Bozic.
“Planting trees in fall requires some planning and diligent work ahead of time,” he said.