Fall - A Perfect Time for Selecting, Planting Trees & Shrubs

Nov. 11, 2017 at 6:12 p.m.

 Matt Bochat

Matt Bochat   FRANK TILLEY for The Victoria Advocate

Matt Bochat

Regardless of if you are replacing trees or just adding to the existing landscape, fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs.

The fall season allows plenty of time for the roots to become established before spring growth begins. There are steps you can follow that will help you select the right tree or shrub.

The past several years' weather, especially Hurricane Harvey, has wreaked havoc on trees and shrubs. We are now seeing symptoms associated with the past droughts and other strange weather events like we had this year. Now is a great time to consider making changes, replacing or adding to your landscape.

First, measure the width and/or circumference of the area where you plan to place a tree. Secondly, look at any height limitations you may have. Next, completely evaluate the area. Look for obstructions trees or shrubs may encounter.

Are there underground or aboveground power lines in the area? Is the area part of a right of way? Will root systems grow toward a foundation or under a sidewalk? Consider also that trees and shrubs have root systems that extend beyond the canopy or drip line. The measurements taken will help you determine which tree or shrub to select for a given area.

Consider this: if you select an evergreen tree that provides excellent shade, it is possible you will have a hard time growing turfgrass underneath its canopy. Also, there is no question that some trees (magnolia, cottonwood, pecans) are messier than others. If they are planted near a sidewalk, patio or deck, you will have a big mess to clean up regularly. As for shrubs, some shrubs may have attributes that are not very appealing.

For example, the common ligustrum shrubs will succumb to leaf spot and cotton root rot as they age due to drought stress or overwatering. Select plants that are well adapted to our area and can survive the roller coaster weather patterns we experience. Do a little research to find the best plant material that will fit your needs and at the same time is not susceptible to insect and disease problems.

I would like to make a few additional comments about selecting trees and shrubs. You will want to select plants that will grow into an area rather than outgrow an area.

Like I said earlier, roots from trees and shrubs can impact foundations, sidewalks, fences or other structures on the property if they are planted too close. Keep in mind that trees and shrubs need room to grow. Make sure shrubs are planted far enough away from the house to allow for air movement and foot traffic. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to get to a hose water connection at a home and was unable to reach it through the shrubs.

Also, make sure there is enough space for escape or exit areas. If there is an emergency or an intruder, there needs to be enough room so the escape is "tangle"-free or the intruder is easily identified. Lastly, large shrubs planted too close to an eave of a home may not only cause foundation issues but may grow tall enough to come in contact or damage the eaves or sides of the home. Overall growth habits and characteristics need to be considered before selecting plant material.

Trees and shrubs add beauty, shade and texture to the landscape. The long-term investment and improvement of your property will only increase its value. Even though we may not be able to obtain absolute perfection, we can at least get a lot closer by gathering the right information.

If you have further questions or need more information, please give me a call at the Victoria County Extension Office at 361-575-4581.

Source: Michael Potter, County Extension Agent - Horticulture, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

Matt Bochat is a County Extension Agent - Ag/Natural Resources Victoria County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.


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