Fall Planting and Pruning Chris Tyson, Extension Agent With every season of the year, there come projects, chores, and problems that arise outdoors in our lawns and gardens. Fall is no exception; there are many tasks that can be done outdoors now that will save you time and headaches in the winter and spring if you get a jump start on them now. As many of our grass, trees, and plants prepare to go dormant, take a look around your home to see what you can do this fall. Shrubs and Ornamentals: Pruning in late summer or early fall promotes new growth of ornamentals around your home that will be susceptible to cold injury. Wait to do any heavy pruning until late winter or early spring to prevent frost injury on plants around the house. Planting: This time of year is also excellent for planting large shade trees, fruit trees, and many smaller, ornamental trees. The cooler months are the best because the tree can use all of its energy to establish roots instead of supporting leaves and fruit. While you might not think too much is going on with a tree this time of year, because of no foliage, the roots will be actively growing and preparing for spring. Planting a few months before spring will give the tree time to establish roots and store energy for spring budding. It’s important to plant a tree correctly if you want to ensure its survival. Healthy trees start before planting. Select the proper plant for the site. Do not plant a shade loving tree like dogwood in the sun. Do not plant a sun-loving tree like crape myrtle in the shade. Dig very wide planting holes. They need to be a minimum of two to five times the diameter of the root ball. This gives the tree lots of soft soil to send roots out into. Never plant a tree deeper than it originally grew. If feasible, you may want to plant into raised beds to insure good drainage. Planting in the cooler months does not mean that trees don’t need to be watered, however. If you plant a tree, make sure it gets adequate water, but is not flooded. Roots that are too wet can kill a tree, and this is probably the number one killer of new trees. It would probably be a good a idea to give a newly planted tree a light watering every couple of days for the first month or so (in hot weather it would need water every day). Pruning Trees: The best time to prune large trees is in the cooler months during dormancy, after all the leaves have fallen – so you take no chances on weakening trees and fewer chances of introducing disease and pests. Remove dead and declining twigs and branches. Don’t leave pests food and shelter for the winter. Properly prune branches that will touch the ground when loaded with rain, foliage, or fruit. Foliage that comes in contact with the soil can invite pests and disease. If you have any questions about your lawn or garden, call me at the Worth County Extension office at 776 – 8216.