Unlike many areas of New England where the fall planting window is quite small, Cape soils often don’t freeze until January, which means that trees or shrubs planted in September or October get a good, long growing season in before winter arrives. Come spring, these autumn plantings will have a head start on spring installations, which are frequently delayed for months due to late snowfall, heavy spring rains, or cool temperatures.

Anthony DiSpezio

Anyone who tried to plant new trees, shrubs, or perennials last June on Cape Cod knows just how frustrating it is to be dreaming of a gorgeous new landscape in early summer only to be frustrated by temperatures stuck in the low 40s with wind chills occasionally dipping into the 30s at night. Far better to hit the nurseries (which often have sales at this time of year) in the early fall and get started on your landscape remodeling now.

Fall planting, just like spring planting, still requires careful consideration of each tree or shrub’s particular likes and dislikes as well as those crucial first steps for planting at any time of year: good soil, adequate hydration, sensible fertilization, and protection from environmental hazards like high coastal winds or exposure to salt water. Landscape professionals agree across the board that with fall planting, the right size hole for each plant is a critical first step. Or as the famous gardener’s quote goes: “Always a $10 hole for a $5 plant.”

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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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