Q: I heard that planting landscape trees in the fall is best. Why is that?
Javier O., Nipomo
A: Fall is an excellent time to plant landscape trees. It’s tempting to plant a tree in the spring for instant gratification.
However, planting in fall when many plants are dormant allows the tree to invest its energies in developing a strong root system, instead of developing leaves and fruit. A strong root system is the foundation for a strong, healthy tree.
Deciding what kind of tree to plant will depend on a variety of factors including your budget, how much room you have and water and maintenance needs.
Ask yourself what the intended purpose is for the tree. Do you want shade, summer fruit or bird watching?
Keep in mind other factors such as local ordinances, fire hazards and proximity to power lines and other structures.
Select a location that allows enough space for a mature tree — the size the tree will grow to be in 10 to 15 years from now. Also consider the soil type, optimal sun exposure and how the roots may affect nearby plantings, hardscapes or other structures.
When you have decided on the best location and have a specific tree in mind, visit a reputable local nursery and choose a healthy plant.
Examine the plant before making a purchase. Avoid root-bound potted trees and look for signs of insect pests or disease.
Look for healthy bark and a strong central stem or stems. Smaller trees with a full root system are preferable over larger trees with cut root systems.
Once you get your tree home, proper planting and staking is equally important.
To learn more about using trees in your landscape, come to the UCCE Master Gardeners Advice to Grow by workshop on Saturday at 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. The workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the auditorium; seating is limited.
Got a gardening question?
In San Luis Obispo, call 805-781-5939; Arroyo Grande, 805-473-7190, and Templeton, 805-434-4105. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo. Follow us on Instagram at @slo_mgs and like us on Facebook.