Fall Fix-Ups for the Yard, Part III

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fall-treesAutumn, with its pleasant temperatures and colorful beauty, is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the outdoors.  It’s also the perfect time to get out in the  yard to plant trees & shrubs, and of course, rake leaves. In previous posts, I covered “Fall Fix-ups” for the lawn and garden, and here, woody perennials will be the focus.  Trees not only boost the value of your home by 15+ percent, but when strategically placed, they can help maintain comfortable temperatures inside your home.  Trees also provide shelter and food for songbirds, bees and other wildlife, as well as produce oxygen and remove the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air.

Trees not only provide shady areas around the yard, but they can also help keep the inside of your home nice and cool during summer months.  Plant deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves in Fall) on the southern and western sides of your home.  In the winter, these bare-branched trees will still allow sunshine to enter and help heat your living spaces.  To help block cold, winter winds, plant evergreens on the northwestern side of your home where prevailing winds are typical.  These strategies will save you money by reducing heating and cooling bills.

Fall is a great time for tree planting since moderate temperatures and moisture levels allow trees to direct their energy to developing roots, which helps establish them right away.  It’s best to get new trees in the ground, or transplant existing ones, typically before mid-October.

To be the most environmentally-conscious, plant native trees and shrubs, such as Flowering Dogwood, Sycamore, American Beech, White Spruce, White Pine, Eastern Hemlock, Eastern Red Cedar, Red Maple, Red Oak, and American Linden.

Avoid planting invasive exotic species of trees, such as:  Chinaberry Tree, Mimosa, Royal Paulownia (Princess Tree), Tallow Tree, Tree-of-Heaven, White Poplar, and Black Locust (when planted outside of the Southern Appalachians and the Southeastern United States).

Before you plant, be sure to consider how large a tree or shrub will be when it matures, especially if placed near your house, walk/driveway or utility/power lines.  Also consider the potential size of a tree’s root system which mirrors the size of its canopy as it grows.

Here are a few tips for newly planted trees from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:  “Mix compost into the whole planting bed, or just plant in existing soil and mulch thoroughly.  Keep mulch about an inch away from stems and tree trunks. Mulch stabilizes soil temperature, prevents weeds, feeds the soil for healthier plants and helps to conserve water.  Shredded tree bark or leaves, wood chips, and fallen pine needles work well as mulch.   Water well when first planting, and keep in mind that trees and shrubs usually don’t need any watering once their roots are fully established (two to five years), except in very dry years.

For mature trees and shrubs, the Fall is an ideal time for pruning.  Remove dead branches, as well as crossing or rubbing branches and suckers, which rob healthy limbs of nutrients.

And finally, don’t forget to compost all those fallen leaves!  To keep it green, avoid using a leaf-blower, and instead get some great exercise by using the rake to gather leaves.  In a few months time, you’ll have a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can enhance everything from your lawn and garden to flower beds.

Sources:  Cornell University and the U.S.D.A.

Tag(s): Greening the Home, Money Saving, The Great Green Outdoors

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