Taking care of trees is a year-round job, and the fall is a great time to fertilize your trees. Doing so will prepare your trees for the winter dormancy period.
The Best Time of Year to Fertilize Your Trees
It is a smart idea to fertilize your trees in the late fall, around November. Fertilizing your trees in the late fall will ensure that they have the nutrients they need to make it through the winter and thrive when spring comes around again.
You should fertilize your trees before the ground freezes to ensure the nutrients gets to their roots. It is okay to fertilize your trees after the first frost of the year, as long as the ground in your area warms up again after the first frost.
You don't want to fertilize your trees when they are in still wrapped up in the growing cycle too early in the fall. That could cause damage to the roots of your trees and result in mold growing on your tree roots over the winter, especially if you get snow where you live. Wait until late October to early November to fertilize your trees.
What Type of Fertilizer to Use
Just like fertilizing your lawn, the most important fertilizer you can apply to your lawn is nitrogen. Nitrogen will help your trees grow throughout the winter and into the spring. It is the most commonly used fertilizer on trees, grass and other plants.
Trees also often require either potassium or phosphorus as well to thrive. They are both essential nutrients trees need in order to continue to grow well and produce healthy foliage.
Your trees may need other types of nutrients as well. The best way to determine that is by getting a soil test done near your trees by an arborist. They will be able to tell you what other nutrients your specific soil is lacking and they will be able to provide you with the exact amount of extra nutrients and even the right amount of nitrogen your trees need to grow.
How to Apply the Fertilizer
When you apply the fertilizer, you don't want to just apply it around the base of the tree, especially with established trees. You want to apply the fertilizer around the entire radius of where the roots are located.
The tree's root system is going to be much larger and wider than the tree itself. If you look up at how wide the foliage spreads out from your tree, generally the root base of the tree is one to three times wider than the foliage area of the tree. With certain trees, the root pattern can be as large as seven times the space the crown of the tree takes up.
When you apply the fertilizer, spread it out by hand or with the use of a fertilizer spreader, like you use on your lawn. Make sure that you apply the fertilizer over the entire root system of the tree.
After you put down the fertilizer, water around the base of the tree. Watering right after you apply the fertilizer will help the fertilizer to sink into the ground and reach the tree's root system.
It is a good idea to water your trees every couple of days for two weeks after you apply fertilizer around the root base. This is a great way to ensure that the fertilizer you applied actually makes it all the way down to the tree's roots before winter sets in.
Although you can use slow-release sticks or pellets to fertilize your tree with, spreading out fertilizer over the surface area of the root base of your trees is the most effective fertilization method.
The tree experts at Druid Tree Service can help you determine exactly what type of fertilizer your established trees need as well as help you fertilize your trees this fall.