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GardenSMART :: 5 Reasons Why Fall Is The Best Time To Plant A Hedge

5 Reasons Why Fall Is The Best Time To Plant A Hedge

By Stephanie Pratt, Instant Hedge
Photographs courtesy of Instant Hedge

When fall hits, we often find ourselves in a frenzied state of cleaning up our gardens. Raking leaves, spreading mulch, removing spent plant material, tucking away gardening hoses, etc. has us thinking about putting the garden to bed. Usually planting anything is far from our thoughts until the first taste of spring the next year. However, fall is really one of the best times to plant trees and shrubs, and it's the ideal time to install a new hedge! Here are a few reasons why:

1. Warm soil – after the heat of summer, as the air cools, warmth in the soil tends to linger. It is very well insulated and doesn't experience sudden drops in temperature like the air. After months of sunny weather, the soil is a nice temperature for encouraging root growth on a newly-planted tree or shrub.

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2. Cool air – when planting in the spring, there is a flush of growth right around the corner. Disturbed roots combined with vigorous shoot growth can result in excessive stress on plants. Take advantage of the cool fall air signaling the plants to go dormant, so they put all their energy into root growth to support them the following spring.

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3. Coming rain – in our age of increasing water scarcity, this is a big one. All new plantings need considerable amounts of water while they are becoming established. If you plant in spring, you will need to irrigate religiously to keep the plants healthy throughout the hot, dry summer. If you plant in fall, not only do the plants need less water since they are not actively growing, but winter rainfall will help you out tremendously. You will still want to set up some kind of irrigation for dry spells, but Mother Nature will do most of the work for you.

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4. Leaf appearance – when planting in spring or summer, the stress may cause leaves on deciduous plants to brown or curl in places. This is purely a cosmetic issue and will be gone the following spring, but if you plant in the fall you can avoid it altogether. After all, the point of planting something is to enjoy its beautiful foliage!

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5. Less stress = healthier plants – being dug up, shipped across the country, and put into a completely different type of soil than they are used to is a stressful experience for plants. When you think about it, it's quite amazing that they do so well most of the time! To give them the best possible start in their new locations, reduce their stress level as much as possible. Planting in the fall is an ideal way to do this, as it gives them the warm roots, cool air, and plenty of water that they need when they are getting established.

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This doesn't mean that you can't plant trees and shrubs any time of year (you can!), but if you can plant in the fall you should go for it. Your new plants will thank you with a gorgeous display the following spring and for many years to come.

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