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Trees take focus in fall

Want to help? Sacramento Tree Foundation has many activities

Tree with orange and yellow leaves
Trees in many colors -- one of the great things about the outdoors in fall. Help
plant trees or learn more about them through the Sacramento Tree
Foundation. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Trees are the stars of fall. Their changing colors demand notice, giving the landscape new looks every day as the green leaves turn to red or gold or orange, and then drop to the ground. A fluffy tree one day -- looking at you, gingko -- can be a sketch of itself the next.

Fall is the best time to plant trees, too. The soil still is warm, which allows roots to grow, but the air temperatures are moderate, so the young tree isn't under heat stress.

The Sacramento Tree Foundation is in the midst of its fall neighborhood tree planting and care events, and welcomes volunteers of any age, with or without tree-planting experience.

-- Sierra Woods, Folsom, 8:45 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Nov. 6. Trees will be planted at several residents' homes.

-- Fisherman's Lake, Natomas, 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7. This is a mulch-spreading event for the native trees that were planted at the site a few years ago.

-- Jordan Family Park, Elk Grove, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Nov. 13. This is a reforestation activity for the park, with native trees to be planted along a bike path. Mulching also will be done.

-- Old North Sacramento, 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 11. This event will add street trees to the neighborhood.

If you'd prefer to look and learn about some of Sacramento's trees, and have a bike available, this Sunday the SacTree folks are leading a tour of the Hollywood Park neighborhood's trees starting at 1 p.m. It will conclude at 5 p.m. at Two Rivers Cider.

And SacTree on Nov. 20 plans an acorn harvesting day from 9 a.m. to noon. Location is still TBA.

Register for all SacTree activities at .

Meanwhile, here are some things to remember when planting trees:

-- Don't plant a tree too deep. The "root flare" should be at or slightly above the soil line to keep the tree from suffocating. The planting hole should be no deeper than the actual rootball, but it should be wide.

-- Remove the nursery stake. It's there only to protect the tree during transit -- it's not meant to be left on while the tree grows, and actually can limit its growth.

-- If stakes are necessary to keep the tree upright, there should be a pair of them, each about 18 inches away from the trunk, attached with loops that let the tree sway. That's how it gets stronger! Then remove the stakes after a year or two, depending on its growth.

These and other tips for tree-planting can be found at and, for fruit trees specifically, in this UC Agriculture and Natural Resources publication, .


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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