The Best Time To Plant Trees On Your Property

By definition, the best time to plant trees is the optimal season where your plant will have the highest chance of survival. There are various factors that affect your tree’s ideal season of planting - climate, location, or quality of soil, to name a few. This article will focus on the type of tree, transplant methods, and other related things.

Before figuring out when to plant, first figure out what to plant. There are over 60,000 species of trees in the world, and there are several ways to categorize them. To know when to plant a tree, focus on these three major types: evergreen, deciduous, and transported plants.

Evergreen Trees

The aptly-named Evergreen trees retain their green leaves all year round. Their leaves are constantly being replaced, falling one by one, instead of falling all at the same time. This type of tree generally thrives in warm and temperate climates; but in some cases, evergreen trees can adapt to colder climates.

Plant evergreen trees when exposure to harsh weather conditions is unlikely - preferably in spring, late summer, or early fall.

Here are some examples of evergreen trees.

  • Eastern White Pine – usually found in humid climates such as mixed forests; is the tallest tree in North America
  • Douglas Fir – highly adaptable; can survive temperate to semi-arid climates
  • Cedar – a coniferous tree that prefers cold, wet climates; can be found in mountains

Deciduous Trees

In contrast, deciduous trees shed their leaves, petals, and fruits for an entire season. This is a natural process called abscission that has evolved to serve some purposes including better nutrient retention and distribution, and effective pollination.

Deciduous trees can adapt to any climate. Therefore they can be found worldwide. Most trees of this type shed their leaves in fall to prepare for winter. The ideal time to plant them is in fall so they can get acclimated (keep them well-watered in winter though).

Here are some examples of deciduous trees.

  • Red Oak–although it prefers humid continental climate, it can thrive in deserts and rain forests
  • Red Maple – widely considered as the most adaptable tree in eastern North America; can survive in virtually any condition
  • Hickory Tree– a climax species that has evolved to thrive in any variety of soil condition, environment, or climate

Transported Plants

Transported plants have different needs and ideal climates. Here are some methods to plant transport trees and when to plant them:

Bare root

During dormancy, a plant's life cycle is paused. This period of minimal activity is the ideal time to transport shrubs, trees, and perennials. Bare root trees are dormant, exposed plants shipped for sale - exposed, meaning they’re sold without a container or soil.

Buying bare root trees has a risk. They are delicate plants, so make sure to order high-quality plant stock and plant them in your garden in early spring. If you order a bit early, keep the plant cool and its roots moist.


Balled-and-burlapped, literally speaking, is a plant transfer method done by balling the roots, wrapping it in a burlap sack, and tying it off with a string. This is a common practice to secure and maintain the roots during transport.

Although a balled-and-burlapped tree is stronger than bare root trees, it is recommended that you plant it as soon as you receive it.

To plant, remove the strings and other synthetic materials. If the burlap sack is organic, you do not have to remove it. Dig an appropriate-sized hole, and set the root ball. Gradually fill the area with the surrounding soil, then water generously.


Container plants are most commonly sold in non-biodegradable containers. The planting instructions are somewhat similar to balled-and-burlapped plants. Remove the container first, then dig a hole, set the plant, fill the area with soil, then water well. For best results, plant the tree in safe conditions – spring, late summer, or early fall.

Tips and Trivia

  • Research thoroughly about the kind of tree you’re interested in planting. Check the internet or ask your gardening supplier how to care for the specific tree. This includes basic needs such as watering amount, frequency, and type of fertilizer; more complex details include plant variety, plant species, and common issues.
  • For best results, you should also consider using fertilizer or plant food. Trees and plant food refill pack products can be found online or at any gardening supply store.
  • The best plant food for plants and trees includes commonly used nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These nutrients act as super food, encouraging plant growth.
  • Nitrogen

    Aside from making your plants green and leafy, nitrogen greatly boosts the production of chlorophyll, amino acids, and nucleic acids. Before using, keep in mind that because nitrogen is already present in the soil in high concentration, using it for fertilizer is somewhat complicated. You have to consider the type of tree, the amount of nitrogen in the soil, and the ideal time to use it.
  • Potassium
    Potassium improves water intake and CO2 uptake. Its primary effect is even plant growth and activation of enzymes necessary for chemical processes.

  • Phosphorus
    For growing or transported plants, phosphorus is recommended particularly for its root-developing qualities. It also aids the plant's photosynthesis, improves quality, and promotes early maturity.

    • Gardening comes with a lot of environmental benefits - improving the quality of air, beautifying the property, providing shade and cooling - but that’s not all. As a bonus, it provides health benefits, too.
    • Planting trees give your property an edge, too. Trees reduce sunlight glare, absorb noise, and provide animals shelter. They can also increase the monetary value of your property by as much as US$30,000.

    Being familiar with the plant’s characteristics and needs can help you decide when to plant it; but when in doubt, plant in spring. This season provides most trees with the ideal conditions for growth and development. For a more optimized answer on the best time to plant a tree, consider your soil condition, location, and climate.

    Jason Robin

    An experienced builder and 3 children's father. One of the original members of the team to offer comprehensive recommendations and ‘how-to’ advice on home and place improvement for your residence better.