Mid to late fall is the ideal time to plant a tree. Because no energy is now going toward growing leaves, all of the tree’s energy can be spent on root growth and adaptation.

Visiting a nursery or garden center at this time of year will be a visual learning experience. Which trees still have leaves that are brightly colored? I chose my Acer x freemanii ‘Celebration’ because its foliage turns gorgeous shades of orange when the temperatures drop. However, I didn’t realize that this tree is early to color (late September/early October) and thus the tree is usually bare by late October.

Acer palmatum 'Viridis' fall color beside Ensete maurelii in one of my back beds

Acer palmatum ‘Viridis’ fall color beside Ensete maurelii in one of my back beds

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' fall color

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ fall color

In contrast, my Acer palmatum ‘Viridis’, a weeping Japanese Maple, foliates reddish bronze, is green from May through most of October, and then turns bright orange in late October and doesn’t lose its leaves until a hard frost, usually in late November. There are, of course, many different Japanese maples and some of them are upright and will grow twenty feet tall and nearly that wide. Cultivars such as ‘Bloodgood’ are burgundy red for most of the growing season but turn scarlet when temperatures drop.

Most trees grow slowly so planting one is an act of faith as well as a gift to future generations. Planted on the south or southwest side of a building, a deciduous tree will shade the house during the hottest hours of a day, thus saving money on air conditioning bills. Just be sure to plant the tree far enough from the house that you won’t giving your favorite arborist a lifetime income.


Did you know that asphalt paving can last a decade longer if it is shaded?



Recently, Pittsburgh decided to consider its street trees like it would any other asset: By measuring their benefits in terms of cold, hard cash.

At a time when some cities are slashing street tree funding in order to balance strained budgets, Pittsburgh is realizing that trees in an urban setting—whether in sidewalks, medians, yards or parks—have benefits beyond giving shade.

These benefits translate into dollars and cents. Pittsburgh’s street trees—strictly those planted in sidewalks and medians—provide $2.4 million worth of environmental and aesthetic value every year. Trees filter air and water, buffer storms by intercepting and slowing rainfall, reduce runoff, increase groundwater recharge, sequester carbon, offer habitat and shade, reduce the urban heat-island effect, boost property values, and. Tree Pittsburgh concluded the city receives $3 in benefits for every $1 it invests in street trees. Planting trees is a symbol of a community that is alive, prosperous and growing.

Fortunately, I live in Shaker Heights which has a strong street tree planting philosophy and a moderate budget. However, since this is not true of all communities, why aren’t you planting a tree?