If you enjoy fall color this is a banner year. Consistent moisture throughout the spring and summer growing season has served the hardwoods…maple, oak, and gum trees…well.
Take a drive along any city street or country road and you’ll be amazed at nature’s splendor; and yes, it’s better this year than most.
The reason is, like turf grass, or an agricultural crop, trees need rain and nutrition to reach their colorful prime. The leaves this fall are saturated with chlorofphyll (which makes them green in summer) and carotenoids (which makes them turn yellow, red, and orange). In a dry season trees tend to do with less, just like turf grass, and while they don’t turn brown, they lack vibrancy and duration of color. The leaves drop sooner in a dry year.
If you’re looking to plant for some fall color on your property, ask your nurseryman for a suggestion based on your soil type and available moisture. It will make a difference in the mature product you will soon enjoy.
For instance, most people love the fall maples (sugar maples) and in our latitude the Green Mountain sugar maple is a popular choice. This variety grows to a max height of about 50 feet, provide an excellent shade canopy, but the best thing is they turn a brilliant red/orange come October. They are susceptible to moisture conditions, however, and the leaves tend to turn brown, or scorch, around the edges during a dry year.
Other varieties, like the Goldspire, will turn yellow in the fall; others, a variety of gold, red, and orange, again depending on the year and the amount of moisture available. A tree professional can share plenty of useful information in the selection of tree for the color, height, and shape you desire.
In addition, please remember that maple trees are deep-rooted and suck a lot of moisture out of the ground, making it difficult to grow many varieties of turf grass beneath them.
If you’re considering a new planting, ideal fall color is easy to attain and comes with a little planning. Do it well the first time and people will marvel and stare with jealousy…for years!