Good trees for urban gardens: August trees — is it time to plant?

Golden Locust tree

We continue our series highlighting trees that work for gardens in Edmonds. It’s presented by Master Gardener Barbara Chase, who serves on the Edmonds Tree Board.

As we enjoy the last days of summer, our thoughts may turn to trees. Although the spring bloom is long gone, we can enjoy other trees such as the Silk Tree, albizzia julibrissin. The bright Golden Locust trees (robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’, which grows to 50 feet) are also highlights in summer gardens.

Silk tree

The Silk tree can be kept to 10 to 20 feet but can grow to 40 feet, so plant carefully. The fluffy pink flowers grow above the branches and are particularly beautiful when viewed from above.

This is a good time to plan for fall planting but follow the advice of Mary Robson in her book Gardening in Washington and Oregon, “August is the least advisable time for tree planting but a good time to start shopping for fall planting,” she writes.

August is also a good time to maintain the health of trees. Gardeners should look for signs of stress in trees, such as leaf drop and yellowish leaves. Be sure to water and maintain a mulch in a ring around the trees, but keep mulch away from the trunk.

If you plan to have new trees in the fall, remove weedy vegetation from the planting area and turn over the soil. Cover the area with compost or mulch such as wood chips. Trees planted in the fall (late September through early November) will have the winter to establish their roots. In the spring, they will be ready to put out good growth.

August is an especially good time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Sit under a shade tree with refreshments and enjoy the remaining days of summer.

— By Barbara Chase


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