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OUT IN THE YARD — Planting your fall landscape

Fall is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs in your landscape. During this cooler season, the tops grow slower, while the roots grow quicker. This causes your plants to establish themselves faster. New plantings need to be watered frequently, and the regular rainfall that we normally experience during the fall months will make your work easier. After growing underground all winter, the roots of your plants will be better equipped to handle the heat of summer. Here are some tips for planting your fall landscape.

When planting in the fall, make sure the plants you choose are hardy in zone 9 and will not freeze during the winter months. We have mild winters, but some tropical and subtropical plants will not survive our winters. Native plants are always a good choice because they grow wild in conditions similar to our area. Also, choose a healthy plant from a quality dealer. You don’t want to buy a plant that looks bad just because it is on clearance. It will not be a bargain if it dies.

Once you have chosen your plants, you will want to put them in the ground. First, dig a hole the depth of the root ball and wide enough in diameter that you have about six inches of space on all sides. Plant the tree or shrub just above the existing soil level because it will settle a little over time. When planting large trees or shrubs, do not amend or add fertilizer to the soil. You want to fill the hole with only native soil and water thoroughly. If you add compost to the hole where you planted the tree, the roots will tend to grow in a circle instead of out into the native soil. You can, however, add compost to the top of the soil. Then put a 2–4 inch layer of mulch around your plant. Do not allow the mulch to touch the trunk of the tree or shrub. The mulch will help your soil retain moisture. Water it every day for the first 5 days and then once a week thereafter.

If you would like to purchase quality plants for you landscape, consider visiting the Jefferson County Master Gardener plant sale from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. on Oct. 5 at the Jefferson County Master Gardener Test Garden at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Beaumont (Mid-County). For more information, call 409-835-8461. We will have citrus trees, shrubs, blueberries and much more. There will be Master Gardeners available to answer your questions.

Enjoy the coming fall weather by working in the garden. You and your plants will be thankful.

You can reach Jefferson County Master Gardener, Melissa Starr, at melynstarr@hotmail.com or call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office at 409-835-8461.