If you've been following along with our blog recently, you will remember that dry soils kill roots. What's the solution? Fall fertilization! TreeMasters Arborist, Jeff Ling, recently sat down with me to answer some questions about fall fertilization:
(Me) Why is fertilization in the fall so important?
(Jeff) Fall fertilization benefits the tree by providing nutrients when the roots are most active. This encourages root growth, even when the tree appears "dormant", and helps the tree to resume growth in the spring. Any nutrients that are not used are immediately stored or taken up in the spring as well.
What does TreeMasters use when you fertilize?
TM uses a low-nitrogen, organic fertilizer that contains a micronutrient package as well as beneficial soil inhabiting bacteria. We also incorporate high concentrations of humates and sea kelp.
Why is this better?
The Humate (Humic acid) adds organic matter to the soil, increases biological activity in the soil (incl. earthworms), stimulates root growth, and improves soil structure. Bottom line - we are changing your soil to more closely imitate rich, natural, undisturbed soil.
With this summer being so dry, should I still fertilize?
Dry Summer, yes still fertilize. Drought causes death of tree roots. Fertilization causes growth of tree roots. Do it!
What happens to trees if you don’t fertilize them?
Since most trees that are taken care of are in lawns, most soils and tree roots are lacking organic matter because people remove leaves and fallen limbs - the source of organic matter. Add soil compaction, lack of organic matter, competition with grass, etc. and you have extremely poor conditions for root growth (grass roots release a chemical that actually suppresses tree root growth, and if you have a lawn...you have soil compaction). It has been demonstrated that a tree’s roots are about 5 times more dense under mulch than under grass. Since most people are not willing to mulch the entire root zone of their trees, the next best thing is to fertilize using large amounts of organic matter. Without fertilization, many urban trees become more susceptible to other problems and are predisposed to injury by insects, diseases, etc. Often, growth is very slow and urban trees sit in the lawn... stagnant.
If your trees aren't looking their best, make an appointment with our 'Tree Doc'! He'll make them look and feel better!
Jeff Ling is a Registered Consulting Arborist and Co-Founder of TreeMasters, Inc., a full service arbor-care company, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It services tree owners with scientific tree management services throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.