You’ve probably heard the expression, “Fall is for Planting,” and it’s true. The cooler Autumn months are the best time to plant many trees and shrubs. At this time of the year, the soil is still warm, but the temperatures are cool. There is less of a threat to plants from pests and disease and there is less of a chance that new plants will be stressed by a lack of water. The roots of trees and shrubs planted in the fall are better prepared to start growing in the spring and those deeper, more established, roots are better able to handle drought when summer comes.
When planting trees and shrubs at any time of the year, choose species that are native to our part of the country. Native plants are part of the local ecosystem and are a crucial part of the food chain that support the birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that inhabit our yards and gardens. Native plants are both beautiful and easier to maintain than non-native plants, which are less adapted to growing here.
So what to plant? Here is a list of some of the very best native trees and shrubs that benefit birds in two very important ways: these species all serve as a host plant for the insects and caterpillars that all birds need to feed their young in the spring, and they also provide nuts or berries that birds eat at other times of the year.
- Large Deciduous Trees: Oaks, Black Cherry, River Birch, Red Maple, Black Gum
- Smaller Flowering Trees: Flowering Dogwood, Pagoda Dogwood, American Plum, Choke or Pin Cherry, Crabapple
- Large Evergreens: American Holly, Eastern Red Cedar, Eastern White Pine
- Shrubs: Serviceberry, Red or Black Chokeberry, Gray/Silky/Redosier Dogwood, Winterberry, Inkberry, Bayberry, Elderberry, Blueberry, Spicebush, Arrowwood Viburnum
For more specific information on how native plants are crucial for the survival of birds, read Doug Tallamy’s book, Bringing Nature Home, which the Borough’s Bird Town Committee offers for sale. For more extensive lists of native plants that benefit birds and pollinators, check out the resources available on the Bird Town Organization page.
Written by Tom Price, Bird Town Program