Trees Provide Beautiful Fall Color

By Rick Beauchamp


     In spite of drought, nature has been putting on a show in recent weeks with our trees fall color display. The following are 10 trees that have nice fall color for our landscapes:

  1. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum): A slow grower having a wide variety of color
  2. Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica): Bright yellow to orange to scarlet purple
  3. Red Maple (Acer rubrum): One of our greatest sources for fall color ranging from yellow to bright red
  4. Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis): Bright orange and red leaves
  5. Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum): Displays brilliant deep red leaves
  6. Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea): Shows brilliant red foliage later in the season
  7. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum): Displays yellow to deep orange to scarlet to purple leaves
  8. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba): Shows luminous yellow, fan-shaped leaves. Tree is a slow grower
  9. Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra): Has rich golden-yellow foliage. Plant away from drives and walks due to fruit drop
  10. Southern Sugar Maple (Acer barbatum): Used as a sugar maple substitute in the South, glowing yellow to reasonable orange with a red suffusion

Planting Trees

Here is a step-by-step guide for planting trees:

Step 1: Using a shovel, dig a hole three times the width of the root ball and about one and a half times the depth. Slant the sides of the hole inward and make sure the bottom is flat. The hole needs to be deep enough so that when the root ball is placed in it, the top of the ball is about an inch above the soil line.

Step 2: Use your shovel's handle to measure the depth of the root ball, then place the handle in the hole to decide if the hole is deep enough.

Step 3: Place the tree in the hole, lifting it by its root ball, not its trunk.

Step 4: Remove any turf from the remaining soil, and then fill in the hole. Do not add soil amendments as trees need to adapt to existing conditions.

Step 5: Develop a dirt mound or doughnut several inches high around the tree, about the diameter of its top, to prevent runoff. Once established, remove the barrier for proper drainage.

Step 6: Add several inches of mulch, such as pine bark or straw to help the soil retain moisture. Be sure to keep the mulch at least 3 inches away from the trunk because mulch can spread insects, fungus and disease. Depending on conditions, give new trees and shrubs deep watering every few days for the first year of establishment.

Rick Beauchamp is the Elmore County Extension coordinator.

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