Q: I have a major landscaping project this fall and am wondering how late I can go in Atlanta before the soil gets too cold to encourage root growth.
A: There is really no hard and fast rule. While plant roots installed in cold soil do not make as much growth as those planted in warmer conditions, there is more growth than if the plant is held above ground. Evergreen plants need more water in winter because their leaves/needles lose moisture on windy days. A small root system struggles to provide enough water. But if they are watered occasionally, evergreens can survive and flourish when spring weather arrives. Deciduous plant are not quite as demanding since no leaves are present. It’s worth the gamble to install plants in winter and then regularly water the area next to the plant trunks to keep the root ball moist until spring.