Over the years at this time of year you’ve likely seen the “Fall Is For Planting” slogan displayed at local garden centers. Professional horticulturists agree that autumn is an ideal season to install trees and shrubs in your landscape. With shorter days and cooler temperatures, most plants have slowed or stopped their foliage and stem growth. Buds are already formed for next spring, so the above-ground parts no longer use so much energy. But soils are still warm from summer, so roots continue to grow. And effective root establishment is the main factor that enhances the value of planting in autumn.
For horticulturists, autumn begins as plants enter their dormant phase, as early as late August for many. Foliage is mature and plant form is visible, so texture, size and color are more obvious, simplifying choices for siting in your landscape. Even though most plants are not in bloom now, many are tagged with a picture-label (or at least can be viewed online) so it’s easy to see how their flowers look. Choosing herbaceous perennials in particular is much easier now because most die back to the ground in winter and stay dormant until spring is again well underway.
Autumn planting offers other significant advantages. Most garden centers still have prime-quality plants left over from earlier, although some will appear somewhat less than perfect after sitting above ground all summer. Garden centers often prefer to sell their extra inventory at reduced prices during the fall planting season, rather than holding it over the winter. So there are some great bargains for astute homeowners.
Since fall tends to be a less hectic time than spring, nursery experts have more time now to devote to individual customer needs. And for most of us, working outdoors this time of year is far more comfortable and invigorating, now that temperatures and humidity have moderated.
Few activities or projects produce as many rewards as developing a home landscape that your family can enjoy now and for years to come. It’s actually one of the few investments that increases in value with the years. Take advantage of this fall season: it’s a fine opportunity to call upon your creative instincts and make your home an even more pleasant place to live.
About the Author
Wayne Mezitt is a 3rd generation nurseryman, a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist, now chairman of Weston Nurseries of Hopkinton, Chelmsford & Hingham MA, and owner of “Hort-Sense”, a horticultural advisory business. He currently serves in various capacities on several horticulturally-related organizations, including the Massachusetts Horticultural Society at The Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley MA, and chairman for the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG).