Properly Fertilizing Your Trees
Fertilizing your trees is a must if you want to keep them around. What does fertilizing do? It boosts your trees health and in that assists it in fighting off pests, disease and environmental stresses.
If you are asking yourself why trees in a natural habitat live well without somebody fertilizing them- then you have to remember, those trees receive nutrition in different ways. To begin, trees in a natural habitat have access to all the minerals they need to survive and grow. To start, they are constantly receiving mulching from the leaves from prior years. They also are growing in a place where people have not scraped away valuable nutrients- which often happens in subdivisions or places homes exist.
When should you fertilize? The best time to fertilize your trees is from fall to mid-spring. It is during this time that the tree’s roots take the nutrients from the soil and use them. During a trees growing season, you can fertilize to help a tree overcome mineral deficiencies or to fight off disease. The fertilizer should be made up of macronutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) and micronutrients (such as Iron, Magnesium and Manganese). These minerals all have different effects on the growth of a tree and different trees need different formulations.
When fertilizing your tree, you can scatter or drop the fertilizer under the tree’s drip zone. Try not to allow the fertilizer to touch the tree trunk. One should apply between .10 and .20 lbs of nitrogen per 100 square feet. If you put too much fertilizer down or allow it to lay on any part of the tree, it could create fertilizer burn.
If you don’t like the idea of using regular fertilizer and are looking for something organic, this type of fertilizer is also available and just as effective. The biggest difference is that organic fertilizers have a slower release of nutrients and they are often more difficult to find at the store, not to mention more costly. The most common types of organic fertilizers are cottonseed meal, bone meal, manure and chicken litter. As for the amount to apply, read the label carefully.
There is also a fertilizer called inorganic. This type of fertilizer is to be considered the most inexpensive and most frequently used. Inorganic fertilizers are nitrogen based and are made up of sodium nitrate, ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate.
How do you know if your tree is suffering and needs fertilized? The tree will show some one or more of the following symptoms:
* light green or yellow leaves
* leaves with dead spots
* leaves smaller than normal
* fewer leaves and/or flowers than normal
* short, annual twig growth
* dying back of branches at the tips
* wilting of foliage
There are also other reasons why a tree may exhibit these symptoms. A tree could have poor soil aeration or moisture. A tree could have faced adverse climatic conditions; incorrect pH; or disease. Recently transplanted trees and shrubs often will not resume a normal growth rate until the original root system is reestablished. Plants disturbed by construction within the past five to ten years may be in shock and exhibit limited new foliage growth.
Do not assume that an application of fertilizer will quickly remedy any problem which is encountered, in many cases it can make existing problems worse. You should attempt to determine the specific cause in each situation and apply corrective measures.
Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading tree service provider in Central Texas (Travis County and surrounding areas) offering services such as pruning and removals, cabling and bracing as well as arborist reports, diagnostics, pest management, fertilization and Austin tree service trusts. For more information please visit http://www.centraltexastreecare.com.
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