“So what’s the big deal about fall being the best season to plant? Isn’t spring the best time to plant? Or is the whole “fall is for planting” line I’m hearing just a ploy to sell more shrubs this time of year?”Maybe you’ve had some of those same thoughts as you read and hear ads for nurseries this season. So, what is the big deal–what makes fall such a great time to plant?

Katsura fall color

First, let me assure you that just about any time of year can be easy to plant shrubs, trees and perennials in our corner of the world. In case you haven’t noticed, our seasons don’t exactly give us any extremes in heat or cold–in fact, at Vander Giessen’s, our thought has always been that unless the ground is too frozen to dig a hole, plant! But fall really is an excellent season for doing so. Here are a few simple (although often unrealized) reasons why fall can be the ideal season for planting.

As the days start to get noticeably shorter this time of year, nearly all plants start to go dormant (except moss, but that’s another story!). In dormancy, plants experience very little stress in transplanting–in other words, you’re much less likely to have a plant suffer or die from being moved in fall than in spring or summer. Look at it this way: when the plant is asleep, it won’t even know it’s being moved.

Another reason fall is so great for planting is because although air temperatures are cooler now than in summer, ground temperatures are still relatively warm–and much more so than in early spring when many of us start itching to plant. Warm ground is great for encouraging fast root development, and with strong roots, your plants will be well established by next year.

Yet another reason why you should consider planting in fall is watering. We all lead busy lives, and in spring, you’re probably going to have too many other things to keep track of to remember to water new plantings every day. So why not take advantage of fall and winter rains to do the work for you? Planting now means you can let our wonderful, natural irrigation take care of recent transplants. 

‘Tiger Eyes’ Sumac fall color

Now, one word of caution: if you’re looking to plant in a spot in your yard that gets the full blast of the northeast wind in winter, wait. Around here, the biggest killer in winter isn’t snow or even cold–it’s wind. Winter’s “northeaster” winds can do more damage to young plants in drying them out than freezing alone, so if your yard is dangerously exposed, it really is best to wait until spring to plant. Aside from that caveat, get working!

Finally, fall really is a great time to find plants at clearance prices. While you won’t find the selection of shrubs, trees and perennials you expect to find at nurseries in the spring, you may find some great treasures at huge markdowns. If you haven’t done any shopping yet, stop in at Vander Giessen’s and see what we have that might fit your yard and give you a headache-free planting experience!