The temperatures are finally cooling down enough for us to get outside and enjoy our patios and decks. The autumn weather is also perfect for sprucing up the landscape. Now’s the time to install that firepit or outdoor kitchen you’ve always wanted.
Fall is also the ideal time to plant trees in Texas. New trees do well when the soil temperature is above 40 degrees, which is year-round in much of the state. The root systems of balled and burlapped trees can recover from transplanting in the fall. They also have time to develop roots before beginning growth in the spring.
But there are some things you should consider before heading to the nursery. The most important consideration is where you intend to plant your tree. On a residential lot, trees should be planted at least 10 feet from any foundation to allow the trunks and root systems to grow. Be aware of any overhead obstructions, such as utility lines and the boughs of other trees.
Next, consider what kind of tree you want — shade, fruit-bearing, or ornamental.
For shade trees, the live oak is bough and branches above all others. It is the most commonly planted tree in Texas because it grows well virtually anywhere in the state. But live oaks need a lot of space. They can grow up to 40 feet tall and spread their branches 75 feet.
Other Native Shade Trees
- Cedar elm. This is a very hardy tree that tolerates drought well and thrives in nearly any soil.
- Texas ash. Because this is a rather small tree, it’s ideal for small properties or side yards. It delivers brilliant colors in autumn.
- Black cherry. This native is a medium-sized tree, which makes it a good candidate for suburban yards. It produces fragrant white blossoms.
Fruit Bearing Trees
- Pecan. This is the official state tree because it thrives in most areas, produces abundant shade, and drops tasty, nutritious nuts in the fall.
- Persimmon. These are native across Texas, but many homeowners choose the Japanese varieties from nurseries. The tree is insect and disease resistant.
- Peaches, nectarines, and plums. These so-called “stone” trees can produce abundant fruit when properly cared for. The chief enemy of a good crop is a late freeze.
Ornamentals for Texas
- Crepe Myrtle. These tough, durable ornamentals can be kept at shrub-size or grown to 20 feet tall. Their blooms come in a variety of colors and often blossom twice a year.
- Redbud. You can find a variety that will thrive in any part of Texas. These trees are early bloomers in spring and do so in brilliant bursts of red.
- Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum. This native does well in most parts of Texas and only grows to about 18 feet, making it ideal for home landscaping. It delivers large clusters of blossoms in spring.
Know your needs before you buy. Is the area where you intend to plant shady or sunny? What kind of soil do you have? Any well-established, reputable nursery will have people who can help you make the right choice of tree. And nearly every Texas county has an Extension Service office.
When You’re Ready to Plant
- Handle your tree only by the root ball, never the trunk.
- Dig a hole that gives the root ball 6 inches of clearance on all sides and is only as deep as the root ball.
- Backfill the hole with the same soil you took out — never substitute soil.
- Water thoroughly.
- Do not use fertilizer until early spring or you risk burning the tree.
- Mulch around the base to preserve moisture.
- Water thoroughly every seven to 10 days. Overwatering can damage your tree.
You should also be aware of what trees to avoid. The black walnut tree secretes a toxin that will kill nearby plants and flowers. It’s also incredibly messy. Other messy trees that will drop leaves and junk all over your hardscapes? Cottonwoods and mimosas. Both of these are also brittle with weak root systems.
The right trees are a long-term investment that can enhance the beauty and value of your home. Care for them wisely, and they will return your investment many times over.
Need some help with your landscape design? Here at AquaTerra we strive to be a single source solution for our client’s outdoor needs. Contact us, we’re here to help you have the most beautiful landscape on the block.
Emma Bishop is a lifestyle and design writer, and mother of two beautiful girls. She is a social butterfly and loves to entertain guests at home with beautifully decorated spaces for any occasion.