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November Landscapes – Top Trees For Fall Color!

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Above, an Autumn Blaze Maple.

Top Trees to Plant For Fall Color!

November is one of my favorite times of year because of the colorful Fall show that is put on. Not every year is as colorful as others, nevertheless, it is a beautiful time of year.

In this month’s column, I’ll talk about the various trees we can plant in our landscapes which will feature significant fall color, adding beauty to our landscapes.

What affects fall color or how is it made more brilliant or less brilliant each year? The weather has a direct impact of fall foliage color change. The type of Fall color we have each fall can gets its start as early as spring.  A wet spring and average summer will produce beautiful fall color. Warm, sunny days and cool crisp nights during Fall are the optimal conditions for fall color. A warm, dry fall will cause a lowered intensity of color.

Not all trees will start changing colors at the same time. This makes for an interesting mix of colors during the peak of the Fall season. For instance, Chinese Pistache are currently changing to red right now while the Red Oaks will not change for several more weeks. The Pistache will reach its peak when the Red Oaks begin, so they overlap, extend the season, and again, give that striking mix of color.

Fall is the perfect time of year to plant a tree. Planting now gives the tree the off-season and early spring to become acclimated and established before the brunt of the summer heat sets in. If you want to create your own fall color display, pick a tree from the below list and plant one in your own landscape!

Now, on to that list . . . . 

1. Autumn Blaze Maple – When we talk Fall color, most people think of the New England Maples because of their famous presentation. The Autumn Blaze Maple continues that show right here in Texas. This Maple is considered to be a medium-sized tree, topping out around 30-35 feet high. It is a moderately fast grower and great shade provider.



2. Chinese Pistache – Another medium-sized tree that will produce awesome color. The Pistache has a fall show that will rival that of the Maple. The leaves will start out red, but will slowly change to orange and yellow. The Pistache will grow to 30-35 feet high. This is one species that actually has a different male and female species, with the female producing clusters of berries each fall. Fall is the only time you can distinguish the sex of the specimens. So if you’re interested in purchasing/planting a Chinese Pistache, the Fall is the time to do it. That way, if you don’t want the berries or prefer them, you can make an accurate selection in the nursery.



3. Shumard Red Oak – The Shumard Red Oak is a hybrid Oak taken from the Texas Red Oak. It is engineered to be more resistant to Oak Wilt. It is a great fall show participant. It begins changing colors around the second week of November and will become a deep, bright red. The leaves will begin to turn brown before Christmas. Unlike other types of trees, the Red Oak will not drop its leaves until late February, when the spring buds begin appearing. This means, the Red Oak will not contribute to your fall leaf mess. When it begins dropping its leaves, its almost mowing season again. The Shumard is considered a large tree and will top out around 60-65 ft high and with a wide spread.



4. Sweet Gum – The Sweet Gum is both loved and hated. It is loved because its a tree native to our area and requires little care from us. It is hated because of the Sweet Gum balls it drops on the ground. They can be painful to step on. But the fall color they produce is breathtaking. They start out with a bright red, transition to orange and yellow mix. Both phases are simply outstanding. Sweet Gums again are native to Texas, so they do well in much of the state. Their size will range from 40 to 60 feet high.



Fire Dragon Maple, in red, lower right.

5. Shatung Maple – I would be neglectful if I didn’t include the Shatung Maple in this list. The Shatung includes many varieties of Maples, similar to Japanese Maples, but designed to take the Texas heat and sun. The “Fire Dragon” Maple is about as bright red as you can get during the fall. Simply amazing display of fall color. The Red Dragon was created by Keith Johannsson of Burleson, Texas and owns a nursery there by the name of Metro Maples. 


5. Bradford Pear – I do not recommend planting a Bradford or Cleveland Pear in your landscape. There are issues connected to it that cause long-term problems. Nevertheless, the fall color of the Bradford Pear is undeniable. The Bradford will turn a bright red and most of the tree turns at the same time, making for a dramatic look.



6. Bald Cypress – You probably didn’t expect to find this species here, but the copper color of the Bald Cypress in the Fall is gorgeous. They color only lasts about two weeks before it drops, but its a beautiful display during that time. Bald Cypress are considered large trees and can grow as high as 80 ft. These work great in much of Texas, but should be planted well away from your home (foundation).

Honorable mention here go to the Sumac Tree, which grows wild in Texas. Its color display is as pretty as you’ll see from any of the above listed trees.

Before we move on to another subject, let me address a question I receive about this time each year – “why is my Japanese Black Pine Tree shedding its needles? Is there something wrong with it?”

Almost all Pines will shed about 1/8 of its needles during the fall. This is a normal occurrence as the tree is preparing itself for winter’s ice and snow, lessening the weight of its tree limbs in advance of that.


Apply Pre-Emergent Now

With what seems to be an early arriving cool season upon us, go ahead and get your fall pre emergent done now. This is normally an application that we can do almost any time during the month. But this year’s conditions suggest an early application is warranted. 

Remember, there is no such thing as too much with pre-emergent. The more you apply, the more protection your lawn has against weed seed germination. You can and should apply to your landscape beds as well unless you have flowers that reproduce by seed each year, such as the Bluebonnet.

Pre-emergent does not kill weeds. It prevents their seeds from germinating and becoming a weed.

If your home is close to an open field or close to home or retail construction, you definitely need protection from weeds in your lawn.



Holiday Lights

If you’re interested in having Christmas lights done for your home this season, it’s not too late to get that done. Call your installer soon as you’ll want to get on the install list as soon as possible.

If you’re in North Tarrant or Dallas County, Denton or Collin County, give Green Thumb a call at 972-436-2841. Consultation and estimates are free.

(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)


Bald Cypress.jpg

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Precautionary actions are in order as a Freeze Warning has been issued for North Texas tonight and tomorrow.
Wrap the trunks of Palms in Burlap wrap. 
Pindo Palms – gather the limbs together in a straight up and down fashion and tie them together with twine. Tie the limbs in several places.
Wrap or cover your outdoor spigots!!



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