What is the Best Time of Year to Plant Trees & Shrubs in Southern California?

Planting trees and shrubs around your property is a great way to improve the look of your home, increase its value and add curb appeal. But in an area like Southern California, which suffers from extremely dry summers and rainy winters, finding the best time to plant may seem like a guessing game.

Best Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs in Southern California

As a general guideline, the best time to plant trees in Southern California is during late summer or early fall. It’s important that trees get enough water and their roots have enough time to grow. Planting during or just before mild and wet weather arrives, allows this to happen.

By planting in the fall, trees and shrubs will develop a strong root system during the fall, winter, and early spring months. The more established the root system, the stronger your trees and shrubs will be before the extreme heat and stress of summer takes over. Also, it allows you to take advantage of natural rainfall vs. relying solely on irrigation systems, a particular concern to drought-prone regions like Southern California.

Exceptions to the Rule

Temperature is one factor that determines whether your trees, plants and shrubs will survive. Even Los Angeles experiences frost from time to time. Sometimes, it’s prolonged enough to kill established and young plants.

Understanding what planting zone you live in helps you select the best trees and shrubs to plant and helps you become aware of how timing could affect whether your plants survive the winter months.

For example, ficus trees dislike cold weather and tend to die when exposed to extreme cold or frost. In a specific case such as this, you may be better off planting during a different time of year, such as in the spring.

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Proper Planting Practices for Trees and Shrubs

  • Plant Selection

It’s important to choose the right trees and shrubs for your location and needs. Certain plants have specific requirements, such as soil type, light requirements, water demands, etc. If you’re unsure of the best trees and shrubs for your home, reach out to a professional for help.

  • Hole Width and Depth

When planting a new tree or shrub, make the hole 2-3 times wider than the root ball. Avoid using soft, fluffy soil as a temporary solution to help the plant grow as this could prevent the plant from growing in the future. Instead, use as much of the nearby soil the tree will grow in for its new life on your property.

  • Mulch and Additives

Mulch provides many benefits to trees and shrubs. It helps to prevent weed growth around your new plants, helps to retain soil moisture, and improves the soil overtime as it decomposes into compost for trees and shrubs. Mulch also creates a clean and beautiful appearance to your property. Be sure to only apply 2”-3” of mulch as excessive amounts can lead to other plant health problems.

Additives depend on the plant, but a good landscaping contractor can give you recommendations on what you should use. Most times, if the native soil is good, additives are not needed.

  • Watering

More Southern California municipalities are restricting water usage due to the drought, and there are fines for people who exceed their water rations. Planting in the fall allows you to take advantage of natural rainfall so you don’t overburden municipal water supplies.

The first year of your new plant’s life demands the most watering as its root system develops. Be sure to water them as directed by your landscape designer. You may also want to consider incorporating low water-usage plants into your landscape design or installing rain collection systems underneath permeable pavers on your driveway or patio.

Finding a Professional to Help

When you’re planting trees and shrubs, there are many nuances to consider. Working with an experienced landscaping professional with a great reputation is beneficial for many Southern California homeowners.

A professional landscaping company can help you design your landscape with the best plant choices and ensure they’re planted at the right time of year utilizing all best practices. This sets up you and your plants for long-term success.

At Pacific Outdoor Living, we’ve designed tens of thousands of unique landscapes for homeowners in Southern California. By employing a team of landscape designers, and a team of in-house project managers and expert installers, we’re able to make sure your landscape plan is a success from design, through installation, and along with its ongoing maintenance of your property.

We’d love to help you transform your property into what you’ve always dreamed of. Check out our gallery of previous projects, and contact us today for a free consultation.