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Janet Laminack: Fall a good time to plant trees

Fall is the perfect time for planting trees in North Texas. But of course, as the old saying goes, the very best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. Fall planting allows a tree to establish itself in the cooler temperatures of winter and spring.

When choosing trees, people often want a quick growing tree. Quick growing sometimes means quick dying, so it’s best to be patient and pick a quality tree.

Some good choices for our area include oaks like burr, chinkapin, red oak and live oak. Lacebark elm and cedar elm do well and pecans also make nice shade trees. But pecans are not a good choice for planting over driveways or for the squirrel-adverse.

You can also consider smaller trees or large shrubs such as redbud, crape myrtle, desert willow, and wax myrtle. True, these trees won’t be gigantic shade trees, but they can make a positive impact and might be more appropriate and attractive by staying in scale with your home and smaller urban lot.

When deciding where to plant a tree, it’s essential to consider its mature size. Consider how big this tree will be in 10, 20, or 30 years. Make sure you don’t plant a tree too close to power lines, buildings or other trees. You also need to check that the tree isn’t too close to anything underground as well. Before you dig, call 811 to have the underground utilities in your lawn marked for free. Planting trees or shrubs might seem like minor digging, but not knowing where underground lines are could put you in danger or disrupt service in your neighborhood — or both depending on just how serious the sports fans are in your area! For more information, visit

Trees can increase the value of a home’s resale. Properly placed trees can also help with heating and cooling expenses of the home. A deciduous tree — one that loses its leaves in the winter — placed on the south or west side of a home provides shade and cooling in the summer and allows for warming up in the winter.

I’d recommend doing some research on your own in order to pick your tree. Online sources such as the Texas Forest Service Tree Selector, and the Earth-Kind Plant Selector, can provide you with much more information on the particular traits of trees that work well in North Texas.

As far as planting trees, a very common mistake is planting a tree too deep. Keep the same soil line on the trunk when it’s in the ground as it was in the container. If this kind of exactness makes you nervous, place the tree slightly higher. Some settling may occur and it is very important to make sure the tree is not too deep. Once the tree is planted, don’t forget about it. For the first three years it will need more care while it gets established such as supplemental water and reducing the competition of weeds and grass. For more details on proper tree planting and more tree choices for our area, check out, email us at or call 940-349-2892.

For Denton residents, Keep Denton Beautiful is having their annual tree giveaway, registration deadline is Oct. 19. Visit to find out how you can get a fabulous free tree for your home.

And if you have ever thought about becoming a Master Gardener, join us for our open house event on Oct. 30 from 10 am to noon at the Joseph A. Carroll Building, 401 W Hickory St, Denton TX 76201. You can learn all about this volunteer program, meet Master Gardeners and turn in your application all at once.

JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883 or