This Arbor Day, Remember to Plant Native Trees in The Fall Too

Spadefoot Design and Construction, the firm that planted my yard with natives, is in the practice of planting at least as many trees in the fall as in the spring. The tree then has a whole season to grow and further mature. Further, the spring is already very busy with all the weeding and planting. Why not defer the tree planting to a quieter time of the year? We’ve planted trees in November here. They are dormant then anyway, so there really isn’t a risk there.

While we are planning this fall tree planting, let’s say for around Sept 21st or the fall equinox, to bookend the seasons, what should our plantings look like? Last night, someone in my Urban Forestry class at Cornell Cooperative Extension asked just that. He was wondering on this Arbor Day whether there was anyone out there planting trees in groves or ‘stands’ so that over time their roots would bind together, as Nature would have it.

I referred him to Prof. Douglas Tallamy’s The Nature of Oaks, a wonderful monograph on how critically important oaks are to insect and therefore bird life. It is because of him (and Spadefoot) that I now have a stand of some twenty oak saplings that are just now starting to leaf out. Fun fact I read somewhere: The red oak is timed to leaf out when the day gets to 13 hours and 17 minutes long. That was April 15th in New York, and yes that happened!

So there we have it: In the fall, plant a native oak grove. I have scarlet oak, red oak, white oak, and black oak. Each may yield up to a million acorns in their long lifetimes. I hope to see the first of these someday with my grandchildren. It needs to become more of a life with trees than a day for them.

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