Plant a tree (or shrub) for Thanksgiving

Norway and blue spruce make the perfect backdrop for garden art.  This is the best time of year to plant many varieties of trees and shrubs. Photo by Julia Shutt

Looking for ways to “green” your Thanksgiving? How about planting a tree or shrub? It’s a great time of the year to plant vegetation, before the ground freezes. Most area nurseries currently have great deals on trees and shrubs.

The benefits of trees and shrubs are significant. Not only do they help with storm water runoff, vegetation also filters and cleans the air that we breathe. The non-profit organization, American Forests, reports that a single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year, and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen – enough to support two people!

According to landscape designer Julia Shutt of Maple Leaf Landscaping in Bay Village, this is the absolute best time to plant many varieties of trees or shrubs, as they are now dormant. “This is the time of year when the plant doesn’t have to give up resources to survive. It’s the very best time to plant evergreens or deciduous trees. Ohio weather gives us six months of moist soil and that benefits a newly planted tree or shrub. This significantly reduces the need for deep watering.”

The first step is to select the right plant. 

Some evergreen selections that Julia recommends include spruces (either the blue or Norway spruce), hemlocks (the Canadian hemlock or weeping Canadian hemlock) and pines (such as the white pine, Austrian pine or the Scotch pine).

Deciduous trees and shrubs are best planted this time of year as well. Consider these native trees that do well in this climate, including maple, buckeye, hickory, beech, sycamore, willow and dogwood. Deciduous shrubs which are good candidates to plant now include witch hazel, lilac, spirea, privet, burning bush, elderberry and forsythia.

Julia recommends waiting until early spring or early autumn to plant delicate broadleaf evergreen shrubs like Rhododendron or Holly as their foliage tends to get dried out in the winter winds. And some types of cypress and cedars are more sensitive to being planted late in the season and will root in better if they are planted in early spring or early autumn.

To plant your tree or shrub, Julia suggests raising the new bed above the existing elevation in your yard at least 8 to 10 inches. Prepare the new planting bed by digging a hole that is approximately double the width of the root ball. Creating a raised bed will ensure that the base of the plant has plenty of good drainage. When planting is complete make sure that the grading of the new bed is gradual and not a “mounded volcano.”

At this time of year it’s a good idea to “deep water” your newly planted tree or shrub just once. Set up your hose with a minimal trickle and let it run at three separate spots on the root ball, for 10 minutes on each position.

Julia adds that waiting until spring to fertilize is important. “Fertilizer in winter can throw the newly planted tree or shrub into a growth spurt and kill it. The best time to fertilize is the end of March or beginning of April.”

Go green for Thanksgiving by planting a tree or shrub at the easiest time of year! And enjoy the environmental benefits and beauty for years to come!

Brenda OReilly

Co-Chair of the Bay Village Green Team

Read More on Green Scene
Volume 5, Issue 24, Posted 9:56 AM, 11.26.2013