A Quick Guide to Fertilizing New & Established Trees

When it comes to area tree service, properly fertilizing new and established trees is essential to long-term health and survival. Failing to fertilize your trees correctly could mean disastrous results as far as how long your trees are able to live and the lengths to which they will be able to grow. Whether the trees are new or already established, the vital nature of using fertilizer and using it right cannot be overstated.

The first component to correctly fertilizing trees is giving them the necessary nutrients to survive. Failing to do this likely means the tree will not grow into the kind of tree you want if it is new, and if it is an existing tree, it likely will not continue to produce the results you want. Trees require both macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium and they are required in large quantities. Micronutrients are required in lower quantity and include chlorine, iron, and copper.

A Quick Guide to Fertilizing New & Established Trees

Nutrients can be supplied to the trees through inorganic fertilizers, which are highly soluble, or organic fertilizers, which are absorbed more slowly by the tree. Sometimes the two types of fertilizers can be combined to create a best of both worlds scenario in which a mix of the solubility of inorganic fertilizers and the slow absorption of the organic fertilizers is created. The slow absorption can be a major positive because it allows the nutrient to last longer. It must be kept in mind that trees in less rural areas may be in an environment that lacks proper moisture and soil composition. This increases the need for fertilizers to help bring the necessary nutrients to those trees.

It is important that fertilization is done at the right time so as to maximize the impact that the fertilizer will have. Generally, trees have their best growth potential during the spring, so it is optimal to have your nutrients and fertilizer ready when spring begins and then apply them at the height of the season.

If the tree is yellow or shows any other sign that it could be nutrient deficient, then it is probably a good idea to kickstart the process earlier in the spring. With the exception of a few trees like maple and ash, leaves that are yellow or off-color should be met with nutrients quickly because nutrients are clearly not currently being absorbed properly. Further, if growth has exceeded six inches for the year, then it is likely that fertilization is not needed for that particular plant or tree.

Knowing when to fertilize is crucial, but so is knowing how to properly fertilize, and that is something any area tree service should be well versed in.

One excellent way to know exactly what to add to the soil surrounding the trees and plants is to do a soil test. You want to make sure that the soil does not have a high level of phosphorous because that can cause excessive algae growth in nearby bodies of water, which could harm fish and be an overall drain on the environment. Applying extra nitrogen can generally be beneficial to plant and tree growth as well, as it has the effect of producing visible increases in growth. The best fertilizers are usually 16-4-8, 12-6-6, and 12-4-8, unless phosphorous and potassium levels are already measured to be high.

The fertilization process itself can be done either directly or indirectly. Both methods require fertilizer be applied to the root of the area where the tree is located and the indirect method is most commonly used on trees that are found on lawns. The most common form of direct fertilization is called broadcasting, which requires the spreading of a predetermined amount of fertilizer – half on each side of the root area – over the root area via the use of some type of drop device. Liquid fertilizer can also be used as a way to correct a nutrient deficiency if necessary. Irrigation should be done right after finishing with fertilization, as some of the nitrogen used during fertilization can be lost to the atmosphere.

Fertilization rates can vary depending on a few different factors, but usually, trees should receive two to four pounds of nitrogen per square foot each year. The older, more mature trees should receive should receive lower rates of nitrogen than those that are young and still developing, as the nitrogen can help the younger plants grow to their full potential and develop properly.

Over Fertilization should be avoided at all costs since too much fertilizer can contaminate drinking water and leave the tree vulnerable to pests and poor weather conditions. If any of the trees show signs of nutrient deficiency, then more can be added as long as it is spaced out over a few months and the yearly recommended allotment of nitrogen is not surpassed.

Any area tree service should be aware of just how important correctly fertilizing new and established trees is to the health and proper growth of those trees. Fertilization needs to be done in the right amount and at the right time, and failing to go through this process the right way could equate to stunted growth or an overall reduction in lifespan for the trees, which is the exact opposite of what any tree owner would want.

Whether the trees are new or already established, there are ground rules that need to be followed or failure is sure to ensue. Organic or inorganic fertilization can be used and the method can be direct or indirect, but the root area must be taken care of properly, and the nutrients need to be absorbed in exactly the right way, especially trees that have nutrient efficiencies and need a little extra care.

While the fertilization process may have many layers, and at times seem endless, for the sake of maximum growth and life potential of the tree, it is vital that each step is completed in the best way possible if optimum results are to be achieved.