Fertilizing Your Trees & Shrubs For Fall

Fall is here, and that means checking off tasks from your fall landscaping to-do list, including trimming your trees, raking the lawn, and laying new mulch. However, what is often left off the list is fertilizing your trees and shrubs.

Fertilization is an important step that will help your trees and shrubs thrive by improving their overall health so they can better ward off disease or pests.

Why Fertilize In The Fall?Autumn - Autumn leaf color

There are two times of the year that it is recommended to fertilize your trees and shrubs: Spring and fall.

When you fertilize in the fall, it will help your trees and shrubs stay healthy throughout winter by supplementing the nutrients lost when you rake fallen leaves away.

As a rule of thumb, you should only fertilize in the fall when the soil is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent unseasonal growth that can damage the tree.

How Are Trees & Shrubs Fertilized?

Before fertilizing trees and shrubs, you must determine if they need it. This can be done by calling your local tree professional, who will test your soil. They will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis of your soil’s pH and nutrition levels to determine if your trees and shrubs would benefit from added nutrients.

If your trees and shrubs need fertilization, a professional will be able to prescribe right fertilizer and spread it for you. On the front of the fertilizer bag there are three numbers, which correspond with the main nutrients in the blend:

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

Your tree care professional will tell you what these numbers are and what they mean for your plants. For example, if a bag has the numbers 34-0-4 that means it contains 34% nitrogen, 0% phosphorus, and 4% potassium. Your soil test will determine your fertilizer needs, and then a tree care professional will spread the proper fertilizer evenly over the ground with 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Only Fertilize When Needed

As good as fertilization is for your trees and shrubs, it is vital that you only fertilize when needed – over-fertilizing can kill them. Symptoms of over-fertilization include:

  • Yellowing or wilting leaves
  • Slow or no growth
  • Increased presence of pests or disease
  • Brown or rotting roots

A professional will be able to confirm if your trees and shrubs have been over-fertilized and how to remedy it.

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