When is the Best Time to Plant a Tree?

By Nancy Penrose

Knowing how and when to plant trees is crucial to their success. In the Pacific Northwest, the optimal time for planting is October – April.  However, planting outside of this window can be successful too, so long as the trees are planted correctly and have the proper irrigation in place.  

Fall is typically considered by many the best time of year to plant new trees. Usually, late September, October and November are the best months. The conditions you’re looking for are when the hottest summer days are gone but the ground isn’t frozen yet. In the Pacific Northwest, rarely is the ground frozen enough to prevent planting.  December, January and February can also be great planting months as well.

Why should I plant a tree in fall?

In fall there is less chance of drought or hot sun scorching a fragile, newly-planted tree. The cooler temperatures help encourage new root growth, which is vital. Trees actually focus on growing new roots in fall, so planting new trees at that time helps them develop stronger roots. The more time a tree has to establish roots, the more quickly the tree will grow and the better life it will have overall.

Planting in the fall gives trees an extra growing season before the stress of hot summer conditions. The cooler temperatures plus the fall rain allows trees to establish roots, making it easier on them to survive to extreme summer heat or drought.

Many people think that young trees can’t withstand the winter. However, that’s not true. Trees go into a dormant state in the winter, basically like hibernation. This state slows down the tree’s growth and metabolism. It’s safe to plant trees until the ground is frozen solid. Even after snow starts, if you can stick a shovel into the soil, it’s okay to plant. When trees are dormant, they usually don’t require any extra care.

Is fall the best time to plant a tree in all states?

Climate is the important factor when determining the best time of year to plant trees. Seasonal weather determines the best planting time. Trees need adequate time to establish roots, especially in areas with hot, dry summers. A good rule of thumb is to plant your tree at least 4-6 weeks before either the extreme conditions of winter or summer are expected in your area

Nancy Penrose is the owner of Big Trees Inc., located in Snohomish, WA in the Seattle area. The company is one of the largest tree nurseries in the Seattle area with over 120,000 trees available in over 300 varieties. They not only deliver young trees, but also mature trees in a wide range of sizes. Some types of trees available include spring flowering, deciduous, evergreen, and privacy trees. The company also does tree transplanting including large trees. Their blog can be seen at https://bigtreesupply.com/blog/ or http://arboristblog.com/. They can be reached at 360-563-2700.

Big Trees Inc.
10928 Springhetti Rd
Snohomish, WA 98296