Root systems are the heart and soul of trees, but how do you know if your trees and shrubs have healthy root systems? If you’ve never considered the health of your trees and shrubs, you’re not alone.
Though most people don’t think about it, grass isn’t the only part of your lawn that need to be fertilized! Healthy trees and shrubs are less likely to have pests which is a great reason to keep yours healthy. Those big, shady trees enjoy a little extra nutrition from time to time, though it’s not as easy as sprinkling fertilizer around the roots.
Why Does Surface Tree Fertilizer Application Fall Short?
You’re probably thinking, “Why does my tree need a different kind of fertilizer? Doesn’t the fertilizer I already use on my lawn work?” The fact is that the gorgeous, green grass on your lawn is a fertilizer guzzler! Because the grass sucks up the nutrients from most fertilizers you apply, the tree roots never see and of it. If your tree’s roots aren’t getting those helpful additives, your tree isn’t reaping the benefits at all.
“Tree roots are a complicated system. A root network proliferates the soil and penetrates deep to absorb water and nutrients. If you think a tree’s branches are big, you should see the roots! These root networks can spread twice as far as the branches visible above ground.”
The roots of a tree are up against enough already with compacted soil, air pollution, and competition with your turf grass. It’s important to inject the fertilizer at least eight inches deep since these roots are between twelve to eighteen inches beneath the surface. Fertilizer that is injected too deep or too shallow is a waste because the root system is unable to reach in in order to absorb it.
The problem with surface applied tree fertilizer is that only a limited part of the root system is exposed to the nutrients because most of it is absorbed by your grass root systems. The rest of your surface fertilizer is often eroded by wind and rain.
What Is the Best Way to Fertilize Trees and Shrubs?
With so many options on the market, navigating shrub and tree fertilization can be confusing. Do you need fertilizer spikes or a deep root liquid feeder spray? Would your best option be shrub fertilizer powder or liquid tree fertilizer? Ashton Walden Turf Services recommends professional administration of deep root fertilizer for maximum results because the answer to these questions is different for every homeowner.
What Is Deep Root Fertilization?
Deep root fertilizer is exactly what it sounds like – fertilizer that is applied under the surface of the soil, deep down where the roots are located. The fertilizer mixture is injected into the root zone of the tree, where the fertilizer is more directly absorbed by your tree’s root system. Deep root fertilization reduces the chance of all of those nutrients being absorbed by your lawn’s root system,washed out by water, or blown away by wind.
Why Do Trees Need Fertilizer?
In nature, trees are nourished by decomposition of nearby leaves and shrubbery. Since we remove this debris in most lawns, and plant grass surrounding the tree, any nutrients are unable to reach down deep into the tree’s root system. Being sure to nurture the root system of the tree is extra important for newer trees as they develop and expand their root system. Mature trees with expansive root systems also enjoy the benefits of deep root fertilizer.
What Are the Benefits?
Deep root fertilizer is most commonly applied to maintain the general health and strength of your trees. The biggest benefit of deep root fertilization for preventative maintenance is that it not only enriches the soil but also aerates and reduces soil compaction around trees. This makes it easier for your tree’s root system to absorb oxygen, water, helpful bacteria, and nutrients which help your tree fight off pests!
Sometimes the best reason to use deep root fertilization is because your tree has sustained a trauma or disease. After tree roots have sustained significant damage, or other problems pop up that affect the health of your tree, your lawn care provider may recommend extra applications.
When is the Best Time to Fertilize Trees?
Do you know when your tree’s root system is active? It is important to fertilize your trees when the root system is active. This will depend on the weather so far that year, the type of tree, and other soil conditions and variables. Though deep root fertilization is popular in some areas in the fall, it can be performed year round. One popular choice is homeowners asking us to apply the fertilizer just before spring gets in full swing.
Deep Root Fertilizer Is Not a DIY Job!
Most often, when a customer tells us they’ve had a bad experience with deep root fertilizers, it’s because it was applied incorrectly. While there are certainly some aspects of lawn care maintenance that can be done by the DIY-spirited homeowner, this isn’t one of them.
Related Read: The Biggest DIY Lawn Care Mistakes
Homeowners often don’t inject their fertilizer deeply enough, and the nutrients never reach the tree roots. Because the fertilizer never makes it to the tree, but instead gets absorbed by the greedy grass we mentioned earlier, it seems like the fertilizer doesn’t work! Like any fertilizer, it’s only as effective as the application.
Before you begin fertilizing your trees, a soil analysis is what gives you the best information on which nutrients your trees need. Skipping this step, or mixing the fertilizer with the wrong ratio, is a common DIY mistake. Other common mistakes include uneven spacing of the deep root fertilizer injection sites or uneven distribution of fertilizer throughout the holes.