The Scoop on Fertilizer for Your Trees

The Scoop on Fertilizer for Your Trees

Just because Mother Nature has blessed us "lucky ones" with a few last-minute (perhaps unwelcome) snow storms, doesn't mean we can't be excited for what we consider to be a normal, pleasant spring--a very close, yet foreign, concept for some.

Like many outdoor lovers in early spring, you're probably looking forward to a prosperous growing season. You're dreaming about bright, beautiful blossoms; luscious, green grass and fragrant, thriving trees. We bet you can't wait to soak up some sun rays as you witness the fruits of your labor begin to take root in the soil and grow tall and green for all to see.

However, warmer weather isn't the only solution to happy, healthy trees. Without proper nutrition from the soil, trees and plants will not grow to their fullest potential. "The best soil combination is not much different than that of a natural forest setting," explains R.J. Laverne, board certified master arborist and Davey's manager of education and training.

Because many organisms living within the forest floor break up the organic material that accumulates at ground surface, as well as absorb rainfall, plant roots receive more oxygen and grow healthier as a result. According to Laverne, landscape trees miss out on those benefits because property owners often haul away leaves in fall, and trees compete for water and nutrients as they mature.

tree fertilizer
Davey's professionally trained arborists can help you determine whether fertilizer is appropriate for your landscape, and, if necessary, they'll apply it to your trees.

While the forest floor is an ideal setting for all plants, we realize not all landscapes have access to such nutrient-rich soils. But throwing down fertilizer shouldn't be your immediate, go-to solution for healthy trees, either. So, before you assume fertilizer is your best option, first ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are you fertilizing?
  2. How is the health of your landscape plants?
  3. What are your goals for the plants in your landscape?
  4. Which type of fertilizer would you use?

"Fertilizers are like vitamins for your plants," explains Rex Bastian, technical advisor from the Davey Institute. "If you take a vitamin once a day, for example, it won't hurt you, but it won't necessarily do a lot for you and your health."

And like humans, trees and plants need nutrients--which fertilizers do provide--but providing more nutrients than readily available is not necessarily better. "Certain conditions can be addressed with proper, supplemental nutrition, while others cannot," Bastian explains.

Davey's professionally trained arborists can help you determine whether fertilizer is appropriate for your landscape, and, if necessary, they'll apply it to your trees and shrubs before they enter peak growing season.

Just like that, we eliminate all the guesswork from the equation and you can breathe easy knowing your trees are in our hands. Contact your local Davey office today for a free consultation!

  • The Tree Doctor February 16, 2015 >Thank you for reaching out, Cynthia! Yes, you should first apply the compost, then apply proper organic mulch, which may include shredded hardwood bark or pine needles. It’s best to first apply the compost, then let it work its way into the soil via rain or irrigation before applying mulch at a later date. We hope this helps you!
  • Cynthia B February 9, 2015 >We have an organic compost pile. Should we spread this compost around trees and shrubs in spring? Then add mulch on top of this?
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