Garden Girl Nicole Hackett

Plant some trees–it’s Fall after all

Plant some trees–it’s Fall after all
Catawba Crape Myrtle.

Garden Girl Nicole HackettAs we fall into autumn, it’s time to focus on our landscapes.

October and early November are excellent times to install trees and foundation shrubs, reseed lawns and give acid-loving plants a dose of love before their spring displays.

Trees and shrubs benefit from being installed this time of year because the ground is still warm enough to encourage root establishment. The cooler days mean less chances of transplant shock and, most importantly, we have less watering to do.

Homeowners consider trees in a landscape to satisfy different needs. Some are installed purely for vertical interest, others to provide shade and many to bring privacy.

Trees for vertical interest are referred to as ornamental trees. Crape myrtle, redbud and tulip magnolia trees are some of the easiest and most successful ornamental installations for our Clayton Valley climate.

Crape myrtle trees have panicles of cone-shaped flowers in lavender, reds, pink and white. They are deciduous and boast a dramatic fall color display. Crape myrtles can grow 10-18 feet tall depending on the selection and 5-12 feet wide.

Early blooms

Redbuds and tulip magnolia trees both bloom in the spring before the trees get leaves. When a tree blooms while naked, the display is remarkable. The redbud has tiny, two-lipped flowers of pink, purple or white that line this tree’s tiny stems. Redbuds are one of the earliest blooming trees, so you know spring is on the horizon once the flowers appear. Redbuds like it on the dry side, so install within a lawn-less landscape or on a hillside for best growth.

Tulip magnolias are best planted near lawn, because they do enjoy more water. Tulip magnolia trees have saucer-shaped flowers with varied colors. Buds are often dark rose or red and open to pale pink with cream tips.

Trees planted to provide shade to sit under include the Keith Davy Chinese Pistache, October Glory Maple or Evergreen Elm Drake. These trees need room to mature. Resist the urge to plant along a fence and instead install in the center of the landscape. The Keith Davy Chinese Pistache and the October Glory Maple have spectacular fall leaf color. The weeping habit of the Evergreen Elm Drake makes this tree uber desirable without the root destruction of other weeping trees.

Trees for privacy are the type to install along a fence line. The best consideration for this application is the Photinia Frasier tree, which is simply a bush on a stick. You will enjoy 12-15 feet of height and about 8 feet of width. Photinia Frasier trees are evergreens that are functional for blocking that window of your neighbor’s.

Lawn rehab

After a long, hot summer, it is time to rehab our lawn. Consider aerating and dethatching now. It makes sense to break into the tight soil to help introduce air, water and fertilizer deeper toward the lawn’s roots. It would be good to spread a thin layer of high-nitrogen soil conditioner throughout the lawn to provide nutrients naturally.

If you need to overseed, now is the time. Apply lawn seed throughout the entire area and cover with a seed cover for best results.

Preparation makes for a prettier landscape. Before we know it, our camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas will be blooming. This takes a lot of energy out of our plants, so we should prepare them for bloom now while the soil is warm and the roots are still able to soak up the nutrients. Give your winter and early spring bloomers a dose of 0-10-10 or 3-20-20. Use water-soluble if you water with drip and granular if you water by sprinkler or hand.

Nicole Hackett
Nicole Hackett

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with ­questions or comments by email at