Great trees require great soil.

This is one of those basics that can be hard for homeowners to understand or consider. Why? Since soil and everything it delivers to trees is underground, it can be tough to realize how influential it is to your tree’s health.

The health of your soil is actually the foundation for great tree growth, health, and aesthetics. This is because trees absorb water and their food – or nutrition – through the soil.

Let’s learn more about why soil health is important, how to manage soil health, and how to improve soil health so you and your trees and reap the benefits.

Managing Soil Health

At Davey, we like to look at soil health in three categories: the mineral component of soil, the biological component of soil, and the physical component of soil.

As we look at these three areas, we ask ourselves some questions.

  • Physical properties - What is the structure and texture like? Is there good pore space?
  • Biological properties - How much organic material is there? What's the microbial life look like? Is it healthy?
  • Chemical properties - What is the nutrient availability? What is the pH?

Soil Tests

To learn more about your soil health, you can conduct a soil test.

This is a process of taking some random samples of soil around your yard and sending it into a local extension service. A soil test provides you with a laboratory analysis to look at all the mineral, biological, and physical soil components, including:

  • What’s the soil pH (acidity or alkalinity)?
  • What is the soil texture and composition (sand, silt, clay)?
  • What is the organic matter amount in my soil?
  • What are the current levels of macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium)?
  • What are the secondary or micronutrient levels in my soil?

You may want to do a soil test on your property if you suspect you have poor soil health. In a forest setting, for instance, the falling leaves decompose and add healthy organic matter to the soil. This encourages good microbial activity, balances soil pH, and creates a perfect environment for trees. In home landscapes, building activities and other traffic and disturbances remove these healthy additions from the soil, making it less ideal for your trees.

Davey’s ArborGreen® PRO

At Davey, we prefer adding macronutrients and micronutrients as part of soil health management by using a slow-release fertilizer, which will slowly emit nutrients uniformly over time to ensure trees get what they need.

Davey developed Arbor Green PRO for this purpose. We inject this fertilizer, which mimics the natural nutrients found in a forest setting, once annually to ensure trees receive the necessary nutrients.

But it takes a healthy tree to be able to take in the nutrients from the soil, so caring for your trees is important to ensure good health.

Biostimulant For Soil Health

Sometimes, managing soil health takes a bit more effort.

For instance, during years when intense drought is a problem, you may need more than just Arbor Green PRO. This is when we recommend the addition of a biostimulant with humates and a soil penetrant.

What is humate fertilizer? It’s a soil additive that includes humus, which is a stable form of organic matter produced from the decomposition of plant and animal material. It is a valuable component of soil as it increases the ability of the soil to hold nutrients and make them available to plants. Humus also helps to improve soil structure by assisting in the creation of pore space, essential for drainage and oxygen availability. Organic matter can also improve the water-holding capacity of the soil which can help trees access water between rainfalls.


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