How To Fertilize Trees the Right Way

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Trees are one of the most important parts of Earth’s ecosystem. Therefore, keeping them healthy through proper care and feeding is critical. Not all tree care looks the same, and it can even differ by location. Caring for a tree in New England has different rules than caring for a tree in Texas. By educating yourself on the proper steps to fertilize trees, you can ensure your tree gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and grow strong!

How To Care for and Fertilize Trees the Right Way

How To Select the Right Fertilizer

Fertilizing trees is an important part of keeping them healthy and looking their best. However, not all fertilizers are created equal. The best way to determine what type of fertilizer your tree needs is to take a soil sample and have it tested. The soil in the northeast can be acidic, so the pH should also be checked in testing. You can also ask your local nursery which type of fertilizer is best for your tree.

When looking for a fertilizer for your trees, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:

  • Type (organic or synthetic)
  • NPK ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium)
  • Form (granular, liquid, or spikes)

 

Type

The fertilizer type refers to whether it’s organic or synthetic. Organic fertilizers are made from natural ingredients and are slow-release. Synthetic fertilizers are made from chemicals and are fast-release. Many people prefer organic fertilizers because they are less likely to cause environmental damage. However, they can be more expensive and may not be as effective as synthetic fertilizers.

NPK Ratio

The NPK ratio is the concentration of nitrogen (“N”), phosphorus (“P”), and potassium (“K”) in a fertilizer. The higher the NPK ratio, the more concentrated the fertilizer is. Most trees need a balanced NPK ratio of 10-10-10. However, there are some exceptions. For example, citrus trees, which are usually grown in southern climates, need a higher concentration of nitrogen.

Nitrogen is essential for leaf growth and keeps your tree a green color. High nitrogen fertilizer will help your tree produce lots of foliage. Phosphorus is essential for root growth and helps ensure your tree can take water and nutrients from the soil. A high phosphorus fertilizer will help your tree grow a strong root system. Potassium helps protect your tree from diseases and pests. A high potassium fertilizer will help your tree resist disease.

Form

Granular fertilizers are in the form of small pellets or crystals. They dissolve slowly and release the nutrients over time. Liquid fertilizers are concentrated liquid diluted with water before it is applied to the tree. Liquid fertilizers are fast-release and can be harmful to the tree if used in excess. Spikes are solid fertilizer that is inserted into the soil next to the tree. They dissolve slowly and release the nutrients over time.

How To Properly Fertilize a Tree

Once you’ve determined what type of fertilizer your tree needs, it’s time to start fertilizing! The best time to fertilize trees in New England is in the fall. The steps for applying fertilizer depend on its form.

Granular Fertilizer

Granular fertilizer is the most common type. To fertilize a tree with granular fertilizer, sprinkle the pellets around the base of the tree and water them. Be careful not to use too much fertilizer, as it can be harmful to the tree. Be sure to avoid getting the fertilizer on the trunk or branches of the tree, as it can damage the bark. Spread the fertilizer evenly and make sure to cover the entire area around the tree.

Liquid Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizer is a concentrated liquid that is diluted with water before it is applied to the tree. It is fast-release and can be harmful to the tree if used in excess. To fertilize a tree with liquid fertilizer, mix the concentrate with water according to the instructions on the bottle. Then, use a garden hose or watering can to pour the diluted liquid around the base of the tree.

Spike Fertilizer

Spikes are solid fertilizer that is inserted into the soil next to the tree. They dissolve slowly and release the nutrients over time. To fertilize a tree with spikes, insert them into the soil next to the tree and water them. Be careful not to use too many spikes, as they can be harmful to the tree. Make sure to avoid getting the spikes on the trunk or branches of the tree, as they can damage the bark.

How Often You Should Fertilize in New England

You should fertilize your tree at least once a year, but you may need to fertilize it more often if it is growing in nutrient-poor soil. Liquid and spike fertilizers should be applied every four to six weeks, while granular fertilizer can be applied once or twice a year. Follow the instructions on the package to determine how often to fertilize your tree.

You should not fertilize your tree in winter, as it will not be able to use the nutrients. Fertilizing a tree in winter can actually harm the tree. In colder climates, it’s best to fertilize trees in fall or mid-spring to ensure the tree absorbs and stores the nutrients for the upcoming season.

Other Tips for Caring for Trees

Fertilizing your tree is an important part of keeping it healthy, but there are a few other things you can do to help your tree grow and thrive. In the New England area, fall is the best time to maintain your trees!

Watering

One of the most important things you can do for your tree is to make sure it gets enough water. Make sure the soil around the tree is moist, but not wet, and water the tree regularly. In southern climates or during hot weather or drought conditions, you may need to water the tree more often. After a long summer, make sure you provide extra water.

Pruning

Pruning is another important part of tree care. Prune dead or damaged branches and limbs to help the tree stay healthy. Also, prune any suckers or crossing branches to keep the tree’s shape and size under control. Call a professional to make sure you don’t cut back too much!

Mulching

Mulching is the process of spreading a layer of organic or inorganic material around the base of a tree. Mulch helps protect the soil from erosion and moisture loss, and it also helps keep the soil cool in summer and warm in winter. Mulch also helps to feed the tree by providing it with nutrients as it decomposes. You should mulch in the spring and fall.

Why Unhealthy Trees Can Cost You

Trees are essential to our environment and play a vital role in our ecosystem. However, if they become sick or die, it can cost a pretty penny to heal or replace them. Maintaining healthy trees is usually part of the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) agreement you make when you become a homeowner. You can be fined if you don’t keep them maintained.

Replacing a tree can also be very costly. You have to hire someone to grind out the previous stump which can cost hundreds of dollars. You usually also have to find a like-sized tree to replace it (although the rules depend on your specific HOA), which can also cost hundreds and up to thousands of dollars.

Trees are an important part of the natural environment, and they provide a variety of benefits to humans. Trees also require proper care to stay healthy and thrive over time. Reach out to Landscaper Locator today if you have any questions about caring for your tree! Our professionals are happy to answer all your questions with advice based on our expertise in arboriculture. Happy fertilizing!

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