If you’re looking for tree and shrub fertilization tips, it seems like everyone has a different opinion — and with good reason. The best fertilization strategies depend on the plant, its age, the region, current weather conditions and what your preferences are. (Organic? Open to manmade chemicals? Not sure?) Money also plays a factor, since different fertilizers come with different price tags. Younger trees and shrubs require more fertilization, around three times per year on average. The best time for young tree and shrub fertilization is early in the spring before buds form, early in the summer once the leaves have opened and in autumn as the leaves start to fall (if applicable).
However, older trees only need fertilization once or twice per year. It might seem like fertilization options are endless, but there are really only three types: spikes, liquid and granulated. Spikes are just what they sound like: Spikes that are inserted into the ground near the tree or shrub, which slowly release fertilizer in a continuous stream. This is by far the easiest method. For those without a green thumb or who have a busy schedule, spikes can virtually do the work for you.
Choose Your Weapon
Liquid fertilizers are just what they sound like, but they have to be sprayed (not poured!). That’s the only way to guarantee even coverage that isn’t too little and isn’t too much. Finally, granulated fertilizers are available as a pellet or a powder. You can fertilize with your hand, or use a simple drop spreader. No one fertilizer is better than another, because it all depends on your preference, skills and time.
When fertilizing trees and shrubs, begin one foot away from the trunk or base. Otherwise, you risk “bark burn.” Slowly work your way out to the drip line (where the farthest branches reach). Right after fertilizing, water the tree or shrub area very well to get rid of any sitting fertilizer. Watering also helps direct the fertilizer to the roots, optimizing your efforts. Spread rates vary from fertilizer to fertilizer, so remember to take note of any specific recommendations. If possible, mark off the area with posts or tape for at least 24 hours so the fertilizer isn’t disturbed or accidentally touched by children.
After fertilizing, apply two inches of mulch below your trees or shrubs — shredded leaves or bark works well. Adding in organic matter boosts the effectiveness of your fertilization, helps retain moisture in the soil and prevents weeds from popping up. Aim to keep one to two inches of mulch under your trees at all times, checking monthly for necessary touch-ups.
Prefer to have a professional handle fertilization for you? You’re not alone. Call Reliable Tree Care for all your tree and shrub fertilization needs, and give your own green thumb a break.