Trees & Shrubs – Is it okay to plant in the fall?

Sep 23, 2019
Sue Kelly September 23, 2019
Tom Nenovich
Waconia Garden Center Manager

Container Gardening

Yes, the fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Weeds are not growing as aggressively and the evenings are cooler in the fall so the trees and shrubs do not have to work so hard to get established. 

Basic planting steps:

  1. Dig the hole twice as large as the container and just deep enough so that the tree or shrub will be at the same ground level it is currently. Lay the containerized tree or shrub on its side, push on the sides of the container and gently slide the plant out with its roots and dirt ball intact.
  2. Make small vertical cuts with a clean knife or pruning shears on the sides just deep enough to cut the net of roots. Cut completely through any circling roots.  Make a criss-cross cut across the bottom. It is also a good idea to add a root stimulator solution such as Bonide Root & Grow to the prepared root ball (see product photo below). All of these steps encourage the roots to grow into the new larger site.
  3. Place the prepared plant into the hole. Backfill the soil into the hole filling it halfway; be sure the tree or shrub remains straight. Add water and firm the soil around the plant. Continue filling the hole and firming the soil until it is at the correct level. Form a ridge of soil to keep water slightly puddled over the roots. Add more water as needed.
Bonide Root & Grow Root Stimulator

Your soil and weather will affect the watering needs of the plant. Well-drained, sandy soil will need water more often than clay soil which can hold too much water. A slow trickle of the garden hose at the base of the plant for several hours or until the soil is thoroughly soaked is the best method. Do avoid short, frequent watering as this does not promote deep root growth. And before the first hard freeze, remember to water all your new and existing trees and shrubs to help them get through the winter.

Also don’t forget about planting perennials this fall. There are some great sales going on now at the Garden Center on perennials, trees and shrubs. Also, fall bulbs will soon be here in limited supply.

Diagram taken from