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Fall tree planting tips

Our fall tree order form is available on our website.


Helpful tips for fall tree planting success
You can order trees now for planting this autumn

Local landowners plant tens of thousands of trees each year. They plant trees around their homes and farms for shade, windbreaks and reforestation.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation is now taking fall tree orders and a common question comes up; “Is it better to plant trees in the spring or the fall?” The answer depends on the type of tree and your location.

“Spring and fall are both good times to plant trees,” said Ian Jean, Forestry Specialist at Ausable Bayfield Conservation. “The weather is cool and, as trees enter dormancy in fall, or emerge from dormancy in spring, they are better able to handle the stress of transplanting.”  

When planting trees in the autumn, one must consider winter conditions ahead. Certain trees, types of planting stock, and locations are better suited than others to fall planting. “Frost heaving is a problem for fall planting of very small, bare-root seedlings,” Ian said. “In the fall, we handle only larger trees in pots or in root-ball-in-burlap format and we have good success planting those larger size trees.” (The smaller seedling trees are offered in the spring tree planting program.)

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) has posted its tree order form for fall 2021. The tree order form is available online at this link:

ABCA accepts faxed, mailed, and e-mailed orders until September 17, 2021.

We accept orders accompanied by payment until September 30, 2021.

A new video, by Ausable Bayfield Conservation, offers ‘Ten Reasons to Plant Trees.’

You may watch the video at this link:

You can find it as well on the Ausable Bayfield Conservation YouTube channel:

Cold winter winds and road salt spray are also factors that should be considered when considering a fall planting location, according to Ian.

“Cold wind and especially salt spray will dry out and can kill evergreen foliage and buds and small branches of all types of trees,” he said. Winter injury or ‘windburn’ is most noticeable on evergreen trees as brown patches of foliage the following spring on the wind-exposed side of the tree. “Along busy roads, where salt spray is an issue, it’s best to plant in the spring.”

Additional measures to improve success of autumn-planted trees are staking and protective covers. Jean suggests staking any trees more than four feet tall.

“Fall-planted trees don’t have time to root and become wind-firm before winter wind, snow and ice storms.” He suggests you choose a stake and tie appropriate for the size of the tree. A variety of materials can be used as long as the tie material is soft to avoid damaging the trunk. Stakes and ties should be removed once the tree is wind firm, preferably after one year. Protective covering such as stem wraps are important to protect from rodent and rabbit feeding and burlap wrapping can be used to protect evergreen foliage from windburn injury.  

There is a misconception that fall-planted trees don’t need to be watered but Jean cautions this is not the case.

“Fall-planted trees benefit from watering during periods of heat or drought the following spring and summer,” he said. Trees planted in autumn have a very limited opportunity for root growth before winter. Until transplanted trees have recovered a root system, in balance with their top, watering is important.

There is a cost to order trees through the fall tree planting program but in some cases there may be incentive grants available for some tree planting projects. Cost-share funding may be available for establishing field windbreaks, treed buffers, and other tree planting projects.

Staff are available to help with project design and to help you apply for grants. You are invited to contact staff through the website at or to phone Ian Jean at 519-235-2610 (or toll-free 1-888-286-2610), extension 238, or email


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