The vivid blooms of spring trees and shrubs are one of the season’s absolute highlights for many of us—from the magnolias and forsythias that herald the start of the season to the redbuds, crabapples and flowering cherries that steal the show with their spectacular displays, to the heavenly scent of lilacs that pervade gardens and yards this time of year…giving us pause, and almost always, an involuntary, “ahhh.” It’s a season that seems to intrinsically say to us, “let’s grow something!”
Have you done your tree and shrub planting for this year? Depending on where you are in the country, planting season may be at its height, or perhaps may have just passed. For places in higher Hardiness Zones, i.e. much of the west coast and southern U.S., the window of time for planting has likely passed–it’s already getting quite warm in those regions, which isn’t going to give your new tree its best chance at survival and growth.
What’s a Hardiness Zone? The Plant Hardiness Zones divide the United States and Canada into 11 areas based on a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in the average annual minimum temperature. (The United States falls within Zones 2 through 10). For example, the lowest average temperature in Zone 2 is -50 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, while the minimum average temperature in zone 10 is +30 to +40 degrees Fahrenheit. Learn more about Hardiness Zones at arborday.org.
But in other parts of the country, for example, the northern, midwestern, northeastern and more inland northwest, planting time for trees and shrubs is in full swing. Maybe you’ve got a bare, new yard, or perhaps you’re adding to an existing array of trees and shrubs. Need some landscape design inspiration? Arborday.org has free, professionally designed landscape plans that focus on trees and shrubs, available to anyone for download. One such plan is called the Flowering Green Giant, a design combining a beautifully contrasting trio of trees—the rich green of a Green Giant Arborvitae, the sprightly, springtime yellow of Forsythia, and the dazzling profusion of white blooms that grace the Yoshino Cherry Tree. Other designs include the a bird-attracting tree/shrub combination (Bird Magnet Hedgerow), a blooming shrub plan set beneath an existing shade tree (Shrubs Under a Shade Tree) , a flowering tree/hedge plan planted along an existing wood line (Flowering Woods Edge), and more!
Know what trees you want but haven’t gotten to ordering them yet? If you’re in Zones 2-5, you can still order trees from the Arbor Day Foundation Online Tree Nursery for large array of affordable trees and shrubs. (Look up your Hardiness Zone here if you’re not sure what zone you’re in). Because we only send trees at the best time for planting in your area, our final deadline for accepting orders for these higher zones (that will still be delivered this season) is May 14. If your zone’s window for ordering has passed but you’re still full of inspiration and enthusiasm to plant, consider placing your order to prepare for next planting season—your trees will ship to you at the opportune time to plant this coming fall. Fall planting has many benefits, especially its ability to give trees a fighting chance at establishing and developing strong roots before the harsh heat of summer. Read more about the benefits of fall planting here.
Already have your trees (or have them on the way) and are ready to plant? Consider our 9 Tree Care Tips & Techniques, an easy-to-follow guide that takes you step by step from selecting and planting the right tree, to the care and upkeep of a mature tree. Remember, what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its life span. Planting done with care and some knowledge of trees and their needs will help your trees grow more rapidly and live at least twice as long as improperly planted trees.
Another great source of information is our comprehensive set of Tree City USA Bulletins, which feature in their issues such topics as “How to Select and Plant a Tree,” “Trees for Wildlife,” “How to Landscape to Save Water,” “How to Prevent Tree/Sign Conflicts,” “How Trees Can Save Energy,” “Making Good Use of Small Spaces” and many more.
One last thing—before you get that hole dug and your new tree planted, make sure you’ve got “Right Tree in the Right Place.” Planting an appropriate tree in an appropriate location is vital for the health and longevity of the tree as well as your satisfaction with it—for example, a tree too close to the house could be a hazard, and a tree with “too-tall” potential will be unlikely to remain if it interferes with a power line overhead.
Are you gearing up for planting trees and shrubs right now, or have you just finished? What did you plant? Please let us know in the comments.