Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
September, 2001
Regional Report

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Persimmon trees bear colorful fruit and foliage.

Foliage Trees for Fall Color

This is the perfect time of year to plant a tree to beautify your yard. The roots will get well established before they go dormant and will be ready for the spring surge of growth.

Choosing a Tree

Decide what you want from your tree. Where will it be planted? What is its purpose? If you want summer shade for the house, a deciduous tree planted on the south side would be appropriate. If you prefer a pleasant window view, a grouping of silver birches might be nice.

Fall colors come alive with many trees, including beech, birch, coral tree, gingko, magnolia, maidenhair, Japanese and other maples, crape myrtles, persimmon, Chinese pistache, sour gum, Chinese tallow, tulip tree, and zelkova. (However, even if acacia, ash, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, liquidamber, California pepper, and pine are your favorite trees, avoid planting them--they're prone to wind damage.)

Where to Plant

Most trees will do better if they're planted in a bed rather than in the middle of the lawn. There, you can water deeply as necessary and the tree won't face competition for water and nutrients from deep-rooted lawn grasses. You can arrange plantings underneath the tree and out to the drip zone--the outermost branches--according to what's best for the tree.

Once you've made a preliminary choice, consider the mature size of the tree. Does the area allow the tree sufficient space at its mature size? You don't want to become a slave to pruning the tree and destroying its natural shape. Have you planned for the different needs of the shaded soil underneath its widespread limbs? You won't want to plant roses there! When all these considerations seem to fit your choice, purchase and plant your "perfect" tree.

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