A Michigan Summer Reminder : Why Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

As a kid growing up in Michigan's Great Southwest, my parents were just like parents all over the country. We had rules about what words were allowed under their roof and what words would get me grounded for a week. What made my parents different was the addition of the 'S' word...the second really bad, never to be spoken unless you absolutely had to do so, 'Michigan's S' word. If you've ever been in Michigan from early October through April you might have a good guess as to what this forbidden 'S' word was in our household.


Now, you're probably wondering why I'm taking the time to explain all of this when it is only just the first week of August. A blissful time of year when the Michigan 'S' word is still far from our minds. It may be good to keep the thoughts of scarves, mittens, and ice scrapers completely separated from our beach days and trips to the u-pick fields, but when it comes to planning ahead the success of our lawn and gardens we must do the unthinkable and embrace the coming cooler weather.

As temperatures cool and daylight grows shorter, it’s easy to put off planning your future landscape until next year. But the truth is, fall is the best season to plant trees and shrubs. These plants not only increase curb appeal, they can add privacy, reduce noise, and aid in summertime cooling of your home.

So, why is fall the best time to plant trees and shrubs?

Not as much watering is needed

Young plants need plenty of water. Summertime planting requires close attention to moisture levels. Generally, though, autumn rainfall provides a good portion of the moisture new plants need with only some additional watering required on your part.

Cooler temperatures

The high heat of summer can be harmful to newly planted trees and bushes, increasing the amount of care and attention required. In the fall, lower temperatures are less stressful on plants that are already working hard to adapt to the rigors of being transplanted.

Overcoming transplant shock

During the planting process, delicate root hairs are disturbed and often broken. These small root hairs are vital to a plant’s health because they absorb water and nutrients. By planting trees and shrubs in the fall, roots have the opportunity to regenerate throughout winter while the plant is dormant. This allows it to become more established and ready for the first spring in its new location.

Better value for your money

Trees and shrubs planted in autumn get a jump start on growth. If you plant a 5-gallon shrub in fall, it emerges with a quick burst of springtime growth because its roots have had the winter to quietly grow underground. If you wait until spring to plant, you must purchase a larger, more expensive shrub to match the same springtime size your 5-gallon plant achieves by being planted in the fall.

Extended planting season

While our Creative Landscaping team generally stops planting perennials in mid-October, we install trees and shrubs until the ground freezes. Depending on the weather, this means we can sometimes install trees up until Christmas here in southwestern Michigan. The trees go dormant, so cold temperatures do not adversely affect them and they have several months for root development in anticipation of spring.

Creative Landscaping has the expert knowledge and hard working staff to help you go from an idea to reality before the S*#& flies once more!

If you’ve been considering adding trees and shrubs to your landscaping, now is the time to contact us for a consultation and to be added to our fall planting schedule. Drop us a note at Creative Landscaping through our online contact form or call us at 269-473-1356.

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