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Contrary to popular belief, springtime is not the best time to plant trees. Shrubs are a much better option to add to your landscape this time of year.

To plant or not to plant, that is the question.

This time of year, nurseries and garden centers are filled with beautiful trees just begging to land in the back of a pick-up truck and taken home.  Contrary to popular belief, spring is not the best time to plant trees.

Outdoor Specialist, James Reid, of Lawn & Landscape Solutions, LLC, said that because people have been housebound all winter long, when the weather turns warm, there is a push and inclination to go out and work on their landscaping with an all-out effort. The allure of trees as a new focus can be overwhelming.

But homeowners would be savvy to wait until the fall to plant trees of any type.

“The reason we encourage people to wait for the fall to plant trees, is that then the roots have more time to promote themselves,” he said.

If a tree is planted in the spring, it focuses its growth on the foliage, not the root system. Reid said the tree can then become stressed due to lack of water—particularly in the hot St. Louis summers.

Planting trees in the fall alleviates that problem. The tree focuses on promoting root growth and that makes for a stronger tree the following year.

Reid said that if you feel you must plant something in the springtime, shrubs are a great choice. Since they are smaller and more compact, they have a smaller root system and less water requirement.

Choosing shrubs that are indigenous to the St. Louis area provide the most bang for your buck. Reid said that by planting native plants, you save on water cost plus the shrubs have a better chance of thriving. Native varieties flourish throughout the season with minimal effort by the gardener.

According to the , certain shrubs have a tendency to thrive in our climate. The list includes, but is not limited to: Winter Witchhazel, Blackhaw, Pawpaw, Inkberry and American Hornbeam.

Reid suggests asking nursery personnel for guidance in plant selection. Typically a landscape professional will be more than happy to suggest hardy, native varieties that will thrive for years to come.

Other Things to do for your Yard and Garden in April

  • Apply a crabgrass pre-emergent on lawns. It is nearly impossible to kill crabgrass once it starts growing. Your best defense is to apply the pre-emergent now if you have not already done so.
  • Sharpen garden tools. Many gardeners are guilty of not sharpening their tools. Sharp tools lead to clean cuts and a healthier plant.
  • Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs once the blooms have faded.
  • Plant lettuce seeds directly into the soil. Delicate leafy greens tend to fade later in the hot summer. Now is the perfect time to start spring greens. Many varieties germinate within a week and if planted now, will be ready for harvest before Memorial Day.
Tina May 13, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Great information on planting trees. I always thought springtime would be best, but it totally makes sense that the root systems would be more robust if there is no energy spent in promoting leaf growth. Thanks for the tip. Really enjoy The Garden Club as well as the food articles.

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