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Can You Still Plant Trees In The Fall?

by Meaghan Weeden September 19, 2023 2 min read

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You Can Plant Trees In The Fall. Here's How!

Is it possible to plant trees in the fall — and more importantly, will they grow and continue to thrive throughout the winter months? As the seasons change and the temperature drops, this question inevitably comes up. 

The answer is: yes! In fact, fall is one of the best times to plant certain species of trees in specific areas of North America and the world. That's why, each year, we celebrate Plant a Tree Day on September 28th, a global day of action that inspires thousands of nature lovers around the world to plant trees, remove invasive species, clean up litter, establish community gardens and more! 

A variety of tree species can still be planted in the fall and will survive during the harsh winter months. In fact, many trees in the northern hemisphere go through freeze-thaw cycles, and if they are planted in the fall, they will have plenty of time to establish their root systems before going through a freeze cycle and later growing branches and leaves. In other words: as long as you plant them approximately 6 weeks before the first hard freeze, and they are native to the region, the trees should be fine.

Looking to plant a tree in your own yard this fall? Use the following steps to ensure success.

How to Plant a Tree This Fall

Step 1: Find the Perfect Spot

Find a spacious spot that has access to sunlight and proper drainage. Be sure to find a spot away from structures so that the branches and roots have enough space to grow.

STEP 2: CHECK THE SOIL

Use a soil thermometer to ensure that the ground is warm enough to plant a young tree. The temperature should be above 40°F (4 C). Don’t have a soil thermometer? Take a look around and see if most trees still have their leaves. If the majority are bare, hold off on planting as it is likely too cold. 

STEP 3: DIG THE HOLE AND PLACE THE TREE

Dig a hole that is 2-3 times wider than the container your tree is in. The hole should be deep enough so that the root collar (the point where the roots meet the trunk) is level or slightly above ground level. 

STEP 4: MULCH AROUND THE BASE

Spread 2-3 inches of mulch over the soil to help absorb water and prevent weeds. Keep the mulch about 2 inches away from the trunk of the tree. 

STEP 5: WATER YOUR NEW TREE!

Water your tree immediately after planting, and then about once a week during dry conditions to keep the soil moist.

STEP 6: STAKE IT!

Use tree stakes to keep your tree upright if exposed to high winds. Stakes can usually be removed after a year of growing. 

We hope this has cleared up your questions about why we plant trees in the fall — and how you can do it yourself! If you'd like a more in-depth explanation of how to plant trees, check out ourTree Planting Guide. Still want to leave the planting to us? Plant a tree today!

infographic how to plant trees in the fall
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Meaghan Weeden
Meaghan Weeden

Meaghan works to share our story far and wide, manages our blog calendar, coordinates with the team on projects + campaigns, and ensures our brand voice is reflected across channels. With a background in communications and an education in environmental conservation, she is passionate about leveraging her creativity to help the environment!