Fall is the best time to plant trees in Texas.
Sapling Days began more than 15 years ago as a way to dispel the popular notion that trees should be planted in the late spring along with the tomatoes, peppers and marigolds. In fact, in Texas and the Southwest the very best time to plant trees is in autumn and early winter. Trees planted in fall and winter have more time to grow a strong root system that will allow the tree to obtain water during the hot, hot summers in our region. What better way to encourage people to plant trees than to GIVE TREES AWAY?!
For the first several years of the program 500 baby trees were given away at a single event in downtown Austin. These days, TreeFolks gives away thousands of saplings at multiple events between October and February. In Fall 2015, TreeFolks will have two large sapling giveaways at the Austin Arbor Day Celebration at Gus Garcia Recreation Center on October 17th and at Whole Earth Provision Company’s Grand Re-opening of their 1014 North Lamar location on October 24th.
SPECIES FOR 2015
Arizona cypress is a large, fast growing evergreen with silvery blue colored foliage and peeling red bark. Very heat and drought tolerant. Needs dry soils. At maturity: 30-50 ft height, 10-20 ft width.
Desert Willow is a fairly fast growing tree that has fragrant and orchid-like trumpet-shaped blooms that come in a range of shades from deep burgundy to lavender to light pink. It will reach a mature height of 15-25 feet. It is very drought tolerant and will bloom all summer. The blooms attract hummingbirds.
SAPLING PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS
Location, location, location!
Plant your tree at least 10-20 feet from other trees. Don’t plant near utilities, above- or below-ground.
Dig a small hole about 6 inches wide and no deeper than the depth of the root ball. Keep the root flare (the area where the trunk widens for the first root) even with the ground and make sure the tree is placed on firm soil to prevent sinking. Keep the root collar clear of soil and mulch to prevent disease and root rot.
Fill the hole with the original soil and no additives. Use your hand to firm the soil until the hole is filled. Leftover soil should be placed in a ring that is about 1 foot from the tree. After the first year, you can add compost to the top of the soil, under the mulch.
Build a 2” tall mulch ring around the tree keeping the mulch at least 2 inches from the trunk. Mulch keeps the soil moist, adds nutrients, and improves soil structure. You should rake it back each year to “fluff” it and only reapply if it is less than 2” in depth.
Saplings need ~ 1/2 gallon of water, three times a week for the first month, two times a week for the second month and then once each week after that, in absence of adequate rainfall. Leave a hose on trickle for about 1 minute or use a small container. Water year round for two years.
Saplings don’t need stakes or ties to grow straight. Young trees grow stronger when they are able to sway with the wind.
DIAL BEFORE YOU DIG
Call 1-800-344-8377 at least 72 hours prior to planting your tree to allow time for the utilities to be marked. Plant the tree at least 5 feet away from underground utilities, sidewalks or driveways.
Should I plant trees during drought?
Central Texas has been in drought since 2011 and we’ve had record breaking hot summers. The 1-1/2 gallons of water each week it takes to establish these trees can be captured by intercepting a bit of shower water or veggie washing water. These trees will provide a net gain for the water cycle, helping to recharge groundwater when it rains, and slow and clean runoff. Their shade will help avoid energy consumption, thereby reducing the amount of water needed for energy production.