Planting Fall and Winter Trees (WFAA)

planting fall and winter trees

Most people think of spring when they think of planting, but fall and winter is the perfect time to plant new trees in North Texas.

Denise Hickey, water conservation expert for NTMWD, and Patrick Dickinson, horticulturalist for Texas A&M AgriLife, recently shared the many benefits and advantages of fall planting in our monthly segment on WFAA Channel 8. Trees benefit you and your community by:

  • Improving water and air quality as they naturally filter pollutants that would otherwise enter our waterways
  • Providing shade that reduces lawn water needs, reducing water and energy bills
  • Slowing stormwater runoff to reduce soil erosion

Fall and winter is also an ideal time to plant new trees because fall moisture helps trees establish their root systems. The cool soil also helps roots grow strong and many nurseries offer fall sales on trees.

When the air temperatures are cooler than the soil, the new root growth is encouraged to grow without new top growth, making for a stronger, better-developed root system when the tree begins to grow next spring. Here are some additional tips on fall and winter tree selection and planting.

1.  Choose native and adaptive trees such as:

  • Live oaks (evergreen)
  • Cedar Elm (deciduous)
  • Texas Mountain Laurel (evergreen, blooms in spring)
  • Desert Willow (deciduous, blooms in spring and summer)
  • Redbuds (bloom in spring)

2.  Avoid selecting trees with:

  • V-shaped or multiple trunks
  • Wounds  
  • Buried root flare (their support roots buried too deeply)
  • Roots circling or growing out of the pot rather than just filling it
  • Weeds growing in their pots

3.  When digging the hole, dig:

  • Only as deep as the root ball is tall to provide a good foundation
  • Twice as wide as they are deep to loosen up that soil and help the roots establish themselves more easily

4. To water your new trees properly:

  • Install drip irrigation around trees.
  • Do not water at the base of the tree, but lay your irrigation system in a circular pattern underneath but to the edge of its canopy.
  • Water deeply and once established infrequently
  • Use a hose faucet timer from your local hardware store and consult to prevent overwatering

Join us on Dec. 16 for holiday landscaping gift ideas. For more information on plant selection and landscaping tips, visit WaterUniversity.Tamu.Edu. Be sure to sign up for weekly alerts on when to water and when to wait from