As the days grow shorter and the weather changes, resource managers often consider putting projects on hold until the following Spring. In doing this they miss a potential golden opportunity to take advantage of the dormant season.
Late fall and early winter are often an ideal time to perform restoration work in natural areas. We’ve listed a few considerations below, but please contact your DRG representative for more detail or to discuss the benefits of dormant work in your area.
The best time of the year to plant woody plants is during the fall season. In fact, successful planting can occur up until the ground is frozen.
Consider the following:
- Drier ground means natural area worksites are less muddy and easier to navigate.
- Warm soil temperatures coupled with cool air temperatures help promote root growth.
- As deciduous plants begin to shed leaves, there is less chance for dry winds to evaporate moisture from the plant.
Invasive Vegetation Control Treatments
- Woody invasive plants growing in natural areas are best controlled during the fall and winter months.
- Certain invasive species, like honeysuckles, retain their foliage longer into the fall than many native plants, making fall an excellent time of year to apply foliar treatments.
- Invasive plants in non-forested meadows are more easily controlled in fall via stump cut and basal bark herbicide treatment, targeting the still active invasive plants while reducing the chance of off-target herbicide impacting desirable plants.
- Prescribed burning can control invasive vegetation in natural areas, such as eliminating woody species in prairie meadows. Targeting the dormant season offers the opportunity to burn when the biomass is dry and the ground wet, and has the added benefit of revitalizing native plant communities by promoting quick germination when the ground warms in the spring.
The dormant season often affords our clients time for strategy and planning. Whether developing a management plan or reviewing and updating an existing plan, the dormant season is a great time to step-back and evaluate progress and goals.