It may seem like a strange idea to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials in the autumn, just when Mother Nature is slowing down and about to take a long nap. But the truth is that planting in September and October is often a very smart idea on the Cape and Islands because the soil is still warm from the summer sun, air and water temperatures have moderated, and water levels in the soil are neither too great—as is often the case in New England springs—nor at hot summertime lows.

Anthony DiSpezio

Just like children, young plants thrive best in a consistent nurturing environment without highs and lows, which can stress tender roots leading to disease and poor performance for the plant in general. In fact, some plants actually perform better when planted in the fall, especially conifers like pine and spruce trees, which prefer higher soil temperatures than are often found on the Cape and islands in our cool springs. Certain deciduous trees like maple, ash, honey locust, crabapple, and elm also do well when planted in the fall.

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Susan Dewey is the associate publisher and editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. She lives in Centerville on Cape Cod and enjoys gardening, sailing, walking on the beach, gallery hopping, cooking with fresh seafood, and exploring Cape Cod and the Islands from shore to shore.

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