You may be used to fertilizing the flower and foliage plants in your yard on a regular basis, but trees have deeper roots and aren't always as dependent on fertilizer. However, there are situations where you'll need to fertilize your tree.
Here are some of the situations where your tree may need a boost of fertilizer.
1. During the first years of a tree's life
A tree should grow vigorously in the years after you first plant it, especially after it's had a few months to establish some roots. Landscape trees are typically only a few years old when you get them from the nursery, and they're a long way from full grown. To help your tree grow quickly to establish itself in its new spot, you may want to provide it with fertilizer.
However, be sure to consult with your arborist to ensure you don't give too much fertilizer or use a fertilizer with too-high nitrogen. This can cause a variety of problems, such as weak growth, watery leaves that attract pests, and even stunted growth if high fertilizer levels cause salt buildup in the soil. Your tree may prefer very light fertilization at first while it establishes its roots.
2. When soil is depleted or rocky
A tree that's growing in extremely rocky soil with very little humus may have a hard time accessing enough nutrients. In this case, you may want to apply fertilizer to the tree but also work to build up the soil in your yard with organic matter such as compost.
Soil that's been depleted of nutrients can also cause a problem. Soil can become depleted of nutrients if you grow plants in it for a long time without providing any organic materials or fertilizers to help feed the plants. Your arborist can help you inspect or even test the soil to determine its status.
3. If the tree shows signs of malnourishment
Your arborist can help you inspect the tree for any signs of problems. If your tree is undernourished because the area isn't yielding enough nutrients for its roots, it will likely show signs. For instance, the tree may grow slowly with shorter, smaller new twigs than usual and produce fewer leaves, leading to sparse-looking growth. In cases of malnutrition, fertilizer can help.
If you think something about your tree looks off, don't assume it needs fertilizer; be sure to have it checked out by a professional. Diseases and other problems can also cause a tree's new growth to look strange or unhealthy.
These signs can help you and your arborist determine when to fertilize a landscape tree for best results, and when to back off. Contact a local arborist today to learn more.