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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

Tree Fertilization Facts You Should Know

Hands in sand

As a homeowner, you've likely given some thought to your landscape as you plant spring flowers or performed fall cleanup chores. Have you given thought to the trees that exist on your property? Having well-formed, healthy trees as part of your landscape can add significant value to your home; conversely, diseased and dying trees can negatively impact your property as well.

Tree Care 101: Building Blocks For Healthy Trees

Healthy trees need fresh air, sunlight, water, and plenty of room to grow. One little-known fact about tree growth is their need for fertilization at times. If your soil is less than robust, you might consider reading these tips and tricks about fertilization to give your trees an advantage and opportunities for optimal growth.

Why Fertilize My Trees?

Many people assume that trees are self-sustaining, and that healthy growth happens naturally, but this is not always the case. Fertilizer may be needed for several reasons to ensure healthy development, including:

  • Ensuring strong root growth

  • Fortifying valuable nutrients, the tree needs for optimal growth

  • Improving tree color and foliage growth

  • Improving tree strength

  • Extending the life of a tree

Trees need additional support through fertilization if your soil is compacted, if the soil they are planted in is considered topsoil, or if it has been stripped of nutrients. Knowing how and when to fertilize your trees will be an essential part of creating a healthy landscape.

What is soil amendment?

Some key differences exist between the processes of soil amendment and fertilization. Both have a similar outcome, yet you'll want to know which system to implement for your unique landscape.

  • Soil amendment is the process of improving soil over a longer period of time. Compost and other organic material are added to and mixed in with your existing soil to develop a nutrient-rich environment that will sustain your vegetation.

  • Fertilization is used as a fast-acting nutrient solution for areas of your soil that are depleted or compromised. Nutrient-dense pellets are dissolved in water and assimilated through the roots of the tree for faster absorption. Implementing both strategies is an excellent way to ensure the growth of strong, healthy trees and vegetation.

What will I see if my trees need fertilization?

A trained arborist can expertly assess the health of your trees and provide assistance with crafting a care plan to improve their health. In general, these are symptoms that your trees need some attention:

  • Slow tree growth--If a tree lacks critical nutrients, it will slow or stunt its growth to preserve its strength and structural integrity.

  • Thin and patchy foliage--A tree's first line of defense is protecting the root system and vascular system within its core. It will cut off the nutrient supply to branches and outer foliage, resulting in a thin and sparsely populated pattern of leaves and fruit.

  • Yellow or dropped leaves--Due to lack of adequate nutrients, a tree will cause leaves to yellow or even drop, a sure sign that its health and strength are compromised.

  • Presence of insects and diseases--Weakened trees are particularly susceptible to infestations of both insects and disease. Look for evidence in bark patterns and leaves to determine if you have unwelcome conditions cropping up.

What type of fertilizer do I need?

Fertilization should not be a guessing game--if you're not sure what type of material to use, it's best left to the experts. Nitrogen-based fertilizer, while great for leaf strength and growth, will not encourage fruit production. Similarly, potassium-based fertilizers are excellent for fruit production, but will do nothing for sparse, yellowing leaves and foliage. Know which types of trees you are dealing with and do a bit of research to determine the best methods and types of material to use.

When do I fertilize?

In general, spring and fall are the best times of the year to fertilize and fortify trees and vegetation. After a long, cold winter, spring fertilization will help your trees perk up and provide them with the proper nutrients for re-growth and regeneration. Fall fertilizing techniques help protect root systems and give the tree an extra boost of nutrients for the long winter ahead. Make sure you don't choose a product that stimulates leaf growth in the fall, as the new vegetation is likely to die out when cold weather hits.

Deep root fertilization vs. Surface fertilizing

Injecting liquid fertilizer directly into your tree's root system is the fastest way to provide it with the nutrients it needs for regeneration. In addition to its quick-acting benefits, it has the added ability to aerate your soil, producing optimal growth conditions. This type of fertilization should only be done by a trained professional.

Surface fertilizing requires a bit more work to ensure its absorption. Granular fertilizer must be scratched into the soil so the root system can recognize and assimilate it. Your soil will also have to be watered regularly to ensure maximum absorption and minimum runoff.

Can I do it myself?

In general, if you have not had experience working with chemical fertilizers, it's best to hire a trained arborist to perform the process correctly. It is quite simple to over-fertilize your trees, and in doing so you'll cause more harm than good.

Sarasota Tree Service: Your tree care professionals

When it comes to all aspects of tree care, Sarasota Tree Service has you covered. From planting and watering to stump grinding and tree removal, we provide professional assessments and craft customized landscaping plans to meet your style, your property, and your budget. Don't wait until your trees are past their prime; contact us today for your personalized assessment. Visit for more information.

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