Tree Care

Planting trees in San Antonio is rewarding for a multitude of reasons. They offer homes shade and well-needed protection from the harsh Texas sun. Trees offer a gorgeous focal point to landscapes. And planting trees can also offer a chance to grow fruit and nuts. With all of these great reasons for planting trees, why not make it one of your gardening projects this fall? Rainbow Gardens urges you to incorporate these majestic beauties into your landscape. Read on to see how easy it is to plant trees in San Antonio, TX.

When to Plant Your Trees

In San Antonio, the best time to plant is in fall. This allows your trees to establish roots all through winter. Your trees get 6 months to take up moisture and nutrients before the heat from our San Antonio summers blaze in. In summer, moisture from the soil is directed to the plant parts above ground. So it’s not so much the cold we worry about when planting trees here in San Antonio. It’s the summer heat! (If planting tropical fruit trees or citrus, you’ll need protect in lieu of a freeze.)

Which Trees to Plant

We have tons of tree options at Rainbow Gardens, so it’s important you research which tree is right for your needs. Be mindful of the height and width of the tree at maturity. If you don’t, you’ll be pruning the tree nonstop to keep it smaller than it really wants to be. Where are you planning to plant your trees? Are there walkways, windows, and other features that might be affected when the tree is mature? Native trees are a great choice for San Antonio. You’ll have less maintenance with these trees because they’ll be growing in the environment they long to be in. Planting native contributes to rebuilding San Antonio’s natural ecosystem and feeds our native wildlife.

What Type of Soil to Use

Our limestone soil in San Antonio can be pretty rough to plant in. Rainbow Gardens suggests amending your native soil. This way your trees will start off growing in nutrient-rich matter. To amend, you’ll dig out the native soil from the hole you will be planting your tree in and set it to the side. Next, add soil conditioner or living mulch at a ratio of 2/3 native soil to 1/3 soil conditioner/living mulch. Mix it all up and this is what you will use to back fill your hole once you have placed your tree.


Depth and width are very important to remember when planting trees. For the correct depth, dig a hole only as deep as the root collar of the tree. The root collar is the area where the the roots join the main trunk. This is usually identified as the top of the soil line of your tree when it’s in the nursery container. If you see extra inches of soil on top of the root collar, simply remove it. Planting trees too deeply is one of the biggest reasons tree transplants die. For the proper width, dig a hole 2 times as wide as the root ball. This space allows for fast regeneration of the root system of your tree.

Planting & Filling

Gently remove your tree from its container, trying to keep the roots undisturbed. Place your tree in the hole, with the trunk perpendicular to the ground. Begin filling the hole with your soil mixture, firming the soil as you work, keeping your tree as upright as you can.

After your tree is firmly planted, create a 4″ high berm around the tree with shredded mulch. (Garden-Ville Living Mulch, Hardwood Mulch or pine bark mulch are great because they organically break down and add nutrients to the soil.) A berm looks like a doughnut around the base of the tree. Do not put the mulch up against the trunk. This causes rot and eventual death. The berm will aid in controlling moisture and soil temperature (desperately needed through our San Antonio summers). It also aids in weed suppression, and protects your tree against damage from lawn mowers and edgers.


Immediately after planting your tree, fill the berm with water to settle the soil. Newly planted trees need about an inch and a half of water (25 gallons) weekly, either by rainfall or by you with the hose. Usually 30 seconds of a steady stream is sufficient, dispersing the water around the tree to all of the roots. It’s best to check regularly to see if your tree actually needs watering. Do this by pulling back the mulch and feeling the soil underneath. If it’s warm and dry, go ahead and water, if it’s cool and moist, check back in a couple of days. During hotter months, you may need to check more frequently.

Both under watering and over watering can be damaging. But by watering in incremental amounts, you  “wean” your tree off of being dependent on you for water. You are “teaching” the roots to become dependent on natural rainfall. It can take 1-2 years for your tree to be completely established. See why planting trees in San Antonio during fall is a great idea? More chances of rain! Our dry summers make it difficult to get appropriate amounts of water to our plants.


We have great success planting trees with our agriform tablets. These tablets will slowly release nutrients over a period of 6 months. Push a few tablets into the soil around the root ball to get started. You can supplement with fertilizer specified for trees and shrubs 6 months to a year after planting trees.

A quick word on staking trees: Most trees don’t need staking. But if your trees will be planted on slopes or exposed to high winds, you can stake your tree to offer support. However, do so loosely. Your tree should be able to sway naturally with the wind which creates stronger roots.

Fall Planting Tips & Guides


Early fall vegetable planting gives us San Antonians a chance to have a second round of warm-weather vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and eggplant. But you really do have to get them in early (like mid-late August) in order to have a successful harvest before the cold weather rolls in. Check out our Happy Gardener blogs about getting your soil prepped to be ready for fall gardening, and also for getting your early tomato transplants off on the right foot.

Planting times for cool weather veggies through fall and winter come right on the tail of those previously mentioned “early” plantings. In September and October, Rainbow Gardens nurseries are brimming over with many different varieties of lettuce, kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mustard, spinach and more. Planting the right vegetable at the right time can make a huge difference in the success of your veggie garden. Tap the link to see an awesome list of what you should plant and when: Monthly Veggie Plantings listed by Karen Gardner

(Fun varieties of cauliflower to try during cool, fall weather.)

Planting trees in San Antonio can be a breeze if you do it in fall. Our trees, shrubs, woody perennials need the 6 months of winter to get their roots established so that they can take on the brutal heat of our summers. Tap the link to read more about why it’s so important to plant in fall, and easy steps for how to do it. Planting Trees In San Antonio, Texas 

(No better time than fall to plant a shade tree in San Antonio, TX.)

Butterfly Season

The fall migration the Monarch butterflies take through San Antonio in October is definitely one of the highlights for our city in fall. At Rainbow Gardens we strive to have a well-supplied nursery full of host and nectar plants for all the butterflies that live or pass through our great city. Learn more about our city’s dedication to the Monarch butterfly and how you can help by planting a butterfly garden here: Fall Butterfly Gardening In San Antonio. With milkweed being the only host plant for the Monarchs, we work hard to have them available so the city can plant more and battle their declining population. We offer tons of pollinator-friendly plants, as well one of the largest selections of native plants that you can find in San Antonio.

Fall Lawn Maintenance

Fall lawn maintenance sometimes gets overlooked but it is imperative that it is attended to. Fall fertilizing/winterizing is a very important step when it comes to a healthy, vibrant lawn in all seasons. Fall fertilizing/winterizing helps your lawn continue to grow strong roots and aides in early green-up in the spring. By feeding your lawn at least twice a year, you encourage a consistently healthy lawn which is your absolute BEST DEFENSE against weeds, fungus and insect issues. We’ve made it easy to stay on a schedule if you follow our  Rainbow Gardens Lawn Fertilizer Guide.

(Healthy turf is a result of a consistent fertilizing schedule even in fall.)

Fungus Prevention

A fungus could be among us! Lawn fungus issues love to rear their heads around this time of year. The cooler, wetter weather of fall is the perfect breeding ground for them. See our Rainbow Gardens Lawn Fungus Prevention and Treatment Guide to know what to be watching for when fungus issues attack our San Antonio lawns. And take note, DON’T water in the evenings. It’s always best to water in the morning, but in the cooler temps of fall, it is a must to prevent fungal issues.

(Ward off Brown Patch in your turf by following our recommendations in our guide mentioned above.)

Tree & Shrub Planting Guide