Fall Is coming… Plant a Tree

Fall Is coming… Plant a Tree

Colorful fall leaves brighten the cooling weather.

The hot Dog Days of summer are over.  The weather will begin cooling soon.  People’s thoughts are turning to fall.  Having grown up in the northeast, I loved how the seasons changed.  Each held its own beauty.  Even here in central Texas, each season holds its own beauty.

In central Texas, fall is an excellent time for planting trees, shrubs and other perennials.  Trees add greatest value to your property.  Properly located, they can cut your summer cooling costs up to 50%.  They can shelter your home from some of the excessive EMF radiation from powerlines and cell phone towers.  They help clean the air of pollutants.  There are numerous additional reasons to plant trees.


If you just purchased your home, I strongly suggest you consider planting a tree or two as soon as possible. Well established trees add the single greatest value to your property.  Faster growing trees are more susceptible to storm damage.   A slower growing tree has hardwood.  They can withstand some of our violent storms more easily.   With any tree think of a 5-8 years investment before you see the big savings.  If you have a 2-story house, it will take longer for the tree to grow taller.

Why should trees be planted in the fall?  Plant roots grow anytime the soil temperature is 40 degrees or higher, which may occur all winter in Texas. In the fall they do not have to contend with the harsh summer heat and lack of rain.  During the winter months, the root systems of the fall-planted specimens develop and become established. When spring arrives, this expanded root system can support and take advantage of the full surge of spring growth.  In the spring and summer, trees put most of their energy and resources into leaves, flowers, and fruit-bearing.  The optimum time to plant is when the leaves start falling off the trees.  In central Texas that will begin around the end of September or early October.  Actually, depending on the type of winter predicted, we can plant trees from September till April.


All plants have growing requirements. Think about the plant’s needs before you invest. Is it adapted to your area’s soil? Will it grow in sun or shade? Does it need a wet or dry location? Is it cold hardy? Some nurseries have this type of information on tags beside the plant. If not, ask a nursery professional or the county Extension agent.

Plan before you plant‘ is always a good rule of thumb. Whether you are planting a single plant or an entire landscape, plan first, then plant. Good planning is a worthwhile investment of time that will pay off in greater enjoyment of attractive and useful home grounds, and in increasing the value of your home. It’s much easier to move plants on paper then to dig them after planting in the wrong place. A plan saves many planting mistakes.

Every plant in the landscape should serve a purpose. Ask yourself if you want a plant for screening, for privacy, or for shade. How large will it be five years from now? Plants, like people, grow up. Remember, that a small one-gallon-size plant will look entirely different after a few years of growth in your landscape.

Plant native trees.  Introduced trees tend to create problems for our native plants.  Oaks aren’t the only strong native tree considerations. The other natives that Howard Garrett, the Dirt Doctor, recommends include bigtooth maple, Texas ash, cedar elm, bald cypress, Montezuma cypress and Mexican sycamore (yes, I know the last two are from Mexico, but that’s close enough).

The smaller trees that we call ornamental trees are not quite so clear-cut. The natives that are just terrific include yaupon holly, Mexican plum, Mexican buckeye, redbud, Eve’s necklace, rusty blackhaw viburnum, Carolina buckthorn, and escarpment black cherry.

There are some palms as well such as sabal and needle palm. Some of the foreigners are very good and even better in some cases. They include crape myrtle, Japanese maple, Persian ironwood and Walter’s viburnum. It’s best to stay completely away from Leyland cypress and Lombardy poplar.

Please note: These recommendations are for Dallas.  Most, if not all, are still great options for this area.  I strongly recommend that you work with a landscape architect who specializes in native Texas plants.  Texas has many different ecosystems within her borders.  Each has a different soil and slightly different climate.  This can make a big difference. A knowledgeable landscape architect will test your soil, develop a plan that will suit your needs and desires. They will have connections with great nurseries and arborists.  Many tree trimming companies call themselves arborists.  Use caution in selecting somebody to help you design and plant your yard.










Best Plants & Trees to Grow in Texas Landscapes


Shade Tree Commission