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“What is the best time to plant trees and shrubs?” That’s a question we receive from property managersthe best time to transplant trees is when they are dormant across Fulton County who are showing signs of cabin fever — ready to get a jump on their commercial landscapes before spring flush takes over.

Any green-thumbed Atlantan will probably tell you: Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. And they wouldn’t be wrong. That’s because soil temperatures in our region are warm enough in the fall to encourage and sustain root growth while the tree or shrub goes dormant.

Now that we’re in the middle of winter, however, that bit of information doesn’t necessarily do you any good (presently speaking). But that doesn’t mean the planting window has closed shut on you and your commercial landscape.

Winter is still an acceptable time to plant and transplant trees and shrubs. It’s just important you’re taking the necessary steps to ensure success. Planting now during a dry period this winter will still give a tree or shrub an opportunity to establish its roots before the summer heat sets in. The following advice on winter planting will keep your trees and shrubs alive and ready to thrive come spring.   

What Happens When Plants Go Dormant?

When a tree or shrub is dormant, the action (growth) above ground stops for deciduous plants or slows down for evergreens. This allows the plant to focus its energy underground and into root development. One telltale sign of dormancy is when a tree sheds its leaves to conserve moisture and energy until growing conditions return next spring. Planting trees and shrubs while they’re dormant also reduces the negative effects shock and stress to the plant.

How To Plant Trees And Shrubs In The Winter — 5 Helpful Tips

Prepare The Right Area

Before you plant anything, how much do you know about the spot this plant will be calling home? Does this location receive an adequate amount of sun or shade? Is it protected from the wind?

It’s also important to determine if the spacing and soil drainage are suitable for the incoming plant. One way to test soil drainage is to wait for a dry spell and dig a hole for the plant, then fill it with water. If it doesn’t drain, you may have to work on improving the soil conditions.

Don’t Make The Hole Too Deep

A good rule of green thumb is to dig a hole deep enough that when a tree or shrub is planted, its close to its original planting depth — right at the collar.

Make Sure The Hole Is Wide Enough

knowing when to transplant trees and shrubs will improve their chances

The hole should be at least a foot or two wider than the size of the root system. This extra space around the roots will allow the them to get established a little easier, which is even more critical if the soil is poor.

Water In Thoroughly

It’s not uncommon for trees and shrubs to incur root damage when they are dug up and transplanted to another location. Many of these damaged roots are for water absorption. Because a large percentage of the water-uptake roots can be damaged when digging up a transplant, these newly planted trees and shrubs need to be watered in thoroughly and repeatedly.

Resist The Urge To Fertilize

Once the tree or shrub is planted to its new location in your commercial landscape, you might be tempted to give it a boost of fertilizer, but it’s best to hold off on that for up to a year — nitrogen in the fertilizer can actually burn plants when applied unnecessarily.

Instead of fertilizer, stick to the routine waterings and a thick layer of mulch, which will help retain soil moisture and ward off weeds.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Trees And Shrubs? HighGrove Knows.

Still not sure when to plant trees and shrubs? One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that with new plantings come new plant warranties. The same can’t be said for transplants. So if you decide to dig up an existing tree or shrub and move it, remember that it will lose any warranty coverage it had.

As planting experts, HighGrove can answer all of your planting and transplanting questions 365 days a year. If your commercial property has reached five years with the same plants in the same place, now might be a time to move crowded plants to new homes or add new trees and shrubs to revitalize your overall landscape look.

Call us at 678-298-0550 or use the contact form to the right to schedule a free consultation.

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Image: Bare branches

Last modified: January 23, 2015