Fertilizing Trees And Shrubs

How to fertilize trees and shrubs, as well as decide what type of products to use.

Fertilizing your trees and shrubs is extremely important to keep them healthy and give them long lives. Trees growing in a manicured yard are at a natural disadvantage as they do not get the same nutrients as trees growing in the wild, partly because most people rake and dispose of their leaves, therefore robbing the soil of the nutrients the leaves would have provided.Fertilizing works best in fall after the first killing frost, as the ground is still warm enough and roots are still growing. Trees are then able to store the needed nutrients for later use. The most important thing to remember when fertilizing trees and shrubs is depth. Roots grow down and out away from the tree so this is where fertilizing needs to take place. Fertilizing on top of the ground will not get the nutrients to the roots, and may end up damaging your lawn instead.

Nitrogen is the most important protein and is most responsible for plant growth. Nitrogen poor soil needs to be enriched to keep plants healthy and growing, however you also need to make sure you do not give plants too much nitrogen either as this can also harm them. You can find soil test kits at your local garden center. Nitrogen however, is also easily lost through rain or even watering.

Phosphorous is also extremely important to plant growth, it helps increase the production of flowers, fruits and seed. Phosphorous is not very mobile and will not move far from where you put it into the ground - watering it in is most likely the best way to apply it for a good even, and deeper saturation. The third most important nutrient is potassium. Potassium is essential to the photosynthesis process and helps with water regulation. When purchasing a commercial fertilizer, you will find it contains a ratio on the label. The ratio is in the form of Nitrogen: Phosphorous: Potassium. These ratios represent the percentage of the nutrient by weight contained in the fertilizer. Fillers are also added to fertilizers to make it easier to apply, and to reduce the chance of damaging plants instead.



When purchasing a commercial fertilizer, you will find it contains a ratio on the label. The ratio is in the form of Nitrogen: Phosphorous: Potassium. These ratios represent the percentage of the nutrient by weight contained in the fertilizer. Fillers are also added to fertilizers to make it easier to apply, and to reduce the chance of damaging plants instead. You will also need to decide if you want a slow release fertilizer or a fast release fertilizer. For shrubs and trees, a slow release fertilizer is recommended to keep the plant from being over fertilized.

You may also decide to use natural fertilizers instead of commercial ones. The only problem with this is you will not know the mineral content unless it is a commercialized natural fertilizer. For example; packaged manure bought from a store will still have the mineral content on the packaging, but obviously if you get manure from your neighbor's horses, you will not know the mineral content unless you have it tested. Some natural fertilizers include: cottonseed meal, dried animal blood, fish emulsion, animal manure, sewage sludge, rock phosphate, granite dust, greensand, and wood ash.

Since tree and shrub fertilizer needs to get into the ground, you will need to bore holes into the ground. The holes should be about 2 inches in diameter, 6 - 12 inches deep (depending on the size of the tree or shrub - obviously the larger the tree, the deeper your hole should be), and about 3 feet apart. Begin by drilling or punching holes into the ground 2 - 3 feet from the trunk of the tree and work your way around the tree in a circle. Start the next circle about another 2 - 3 feet out from the first circle. Continue this pattern until you pass the outer branches of the tree by about 2 feet.

You can also use fertilizer stakes or spikes, but in order to get these to work better you really need to make sure to do a lot of watering as they do not allow much movement of the nutrients. Finally, you can also use a liquid fertilizer. These often come as a powder in a special attachment for your hose; the water mixes with the fertilizer as it runs through the attachment and then sprays the fertilizer. The problem with this type of fertilizing is it has to be done quite often. Fertilizing can be done in many ways; it is up to you to decide what type of fertilizers you would like to use, and how much time you want to spend. Make sure to have your soil tested and know what it is you need to give your trees to keep them healthy and alive. Remember, too much fertilizer can cause problems, just as too little fertilizer can.

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