Fertilizing Your Trees & Shrubs 101

January 30, 2017By

Many people think fertilization is a two-step process: buy the fertilizer and then apply it. Sounds simple enough, but there is actually a whole lot more to fertilization than many people realize! One of the biggest mistakes comes when fertilizing trees and shrubs. In this article, we will break down the best time to do so as well as the steps you can follow. Keep in mind, Fischer will be happy to help you at any point along the way as fertilization can get a bit complicated!

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The Best Time to Fertilize Trees and Shrubs

The beginning of springtime isn’t the best time to fertilize, like traditional advice probably told you. That’s because a springtime application only helps the immediate growth instead of the health of the plant, overall.

A great time to fertilize is actually in late fall, after the first major freeze. This is because the plant is going dormant at this point and the fertilizer soaks into the roots. This strengthens them allowing for a better established root system.

How-To Fertilize

How you fertilize your trees and shrubs really depends on the type of soil you have and what stage of growth your plants are in. Loose soil, for instance, doesn’t retain fertilizer as well and so may require more attention throughout the year. Here is a quick breakdown on what you should consider when fertilizing your trees and shrubs.

Which Fertilizer to Use

Most fertilizers will have a combination of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. The most important thing to note is that phosphorous and potassium are great at remaining in soil long after you apply fertilizer, whereas nitrogen is quickly depleted.

A fertilizer high in phosphorous and potassium is a great pre-plant fertilizer because it sets up the soil for your trees and shrubs before the roots dig deep into the ground.

Post-plant fertilizer, however, is usually higher in nitrogen to help make up for all that may have been lost over time. Get a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer, though, because too much nitrogen at once can burn your plants!

How Often to Apply It

This really depends on your soil. If you have a sandy type of soil that moves a lot then you will want to fertilize in lower doses several times per year. A nice, dense soil, on the other hand, can take a good slow-release fertilizer once a year and hold onto the nutrients for months to come.

The Best Way to Apply It

There are many different ways to apply fertilizer to your plants, many of which are actually not worth the effort (or extra cost!). So here are the top three that we recommend:

  • Liquid soil injection provides high-pressure injections of concentrated fertilizer into the soil. Many professionals opt for this because it is quick and easy. You can also use a slow-release fertilizer with this option, which is perfect for most people.
  • Drill a hole into the ground and then spread your fertilizer to have a great reach deep into the soil. Sounds pretty easy, right? It actually takes a bit of organization. Drill 8-12 inches into the ground and spread the holes a couple feet apart to have the best outcome.
  • Surface application is the most popular way to apply fertilizer for homeowners. That’s because it is as easy as tossing it by hand or using a handheld spreader. That’s it! Load your hand or the spreader with the fertilizer and walk around the area you want to fertilize while dropping the contents freely.

Fertilization Can be Tricky! Let Us Help!

If this sounds a bit complicated, don’t worry, we can help with any questions or concerns you have. We offer customized root zone fertilization and even trunk injections for urban areas. We understand the importance of a proper nutrient balance and have all the tools to apply it in the best way possible. Contact us today for a free estimate!

Filed in: Tree Care