Tree Fertilizer: Understanding The Basics

Tree Fertilizer: Help your trees thrive and enjoy their many benefits for years.

Get a free estimate today!

Talk to a licensed arborist today


  • Types Of Fertilizers
  • Choosing The Best Fertilizer For Your Trees
  • Application Methods
  • When And How Often To Fertilize
  • Common Fertilizer Mistakes To Avoid
  • Applying Fertilizer At The Wrong Time

Trees are vital to our environment, providing numerous benefits such as shade, clean air, and beauty. However, they require proper care, including fertilization, to ensure their optimal growth and health. Tree fertilizer is a substance that provides essential nutrients to trees, allowing them to grow stronger, healthier, and more resilient to disease and pests. In this blog post, we’ll explore the basics of tree fertilizer, including the role of nutrients in tree growth, the types of fertilizers available, and the best methods for applying them. We’ll also cover when and how often to fertilize your trees, common mistakes to avoid, and tips for ensuring your trees receive the nutrients they need for optimal health. By understanding the basics of tree fertilizer, you can help your trees thrive and enjoy their many benefits for years.

Role Of Nutrients In Tree Growth

The role of nutrients in tree growth is crucial to understanding the importance of tree fertilization. Trees require a variety of essential macronutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as micronutrients like iron, manganese, and zinc. These nutrients are used in the tree’s physiology in various ways, including the production of chlorophyll for photosynthesis, the growth of roots and shoots, and the formation of proteins and enzymes. We explore the function of each essential nutrient in tree growth and the symptoms of deficiency or excess. We also discuss the importance of balancing these nutrients to achieve optimal tree growth and how tree fertilization can help ensure trees receive the nutrients they need for healthy growth. By understanding the role of nutrients in tree growth, you can make informed decisions about tree fertilization and help your trees thrive

Types Of Fertilizers

Trees, like all living things, require nutrients to grow and thrive. Fertilizers are essential for providing those nutrients and promoting healthy tree growth. However, choosing the right one for your trees can take time and effort with so many different fertilizers available. In this blog post, we’ll explore the main types of fertilizers used for trees and discuss their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

Organic Vs. Chemical Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers are made from natural materials such as compost, animal manure, and bone meal. They are typically slow-release and provide a steady supply of nutrients over time. On the other hand, chemical fertilizers are synthetic and made from inorganic materials. They are usually quick-release and provide a rapid burst of nutrients. The main advantage of organic fertilizers is that they are less likely to harm the environment, while chemical fertilizers can offer faster and more dramatic results.

Slow-Release Vs. Quick-Release Fertilizers

Slow-release fertilizers are designed to release nutrients slowly over an extended period, often several months or more. They are ideal for providing long-term nutrition to trees and require less frequent applications. On the other hand, quick-release fertilizers are designed to release nutrients rapidly, often within days or weeks. They are ideal for providing an immediate boost to trees but require more frequent applications.

Organic Fertilizers and Chemical Fertilizers

Choosing The Best Fertilizer For Your Trees

When choosing a fertilizer for your trees, it’s essential to consider their specific needs and your goals. Factors to consider include the age and size of the tree, soil quality, climate, and desired growth rate. Slow-release fertilizers are generally recommended for mature trees, while quick-release fertilizers may be more suitable for younger trees or trees that need a rapid boost of nutrients. Organic fertilizers may be a better choice for environmentally conscious gardeners, while chemical fertilizers may be preferred by those looking for faster results.

Application Methods

When it comes to fertilizing trees, there are several application methods available. Each method has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the tree’s size, age, and other factors. In this blog post, we’ll explore the primary forms of applying fertilizer to trees, their pros and cons, and how to determine the best plan for your trees.

Surface Application

Surface application is the most common method of fertilizing trees, and it involves spreading the fertilizer on the soil surface around the tree. This method is relatively simple, cost-effective, and suitable for younger and smaller trees. The surface application allows the nutrients to gradually move down to the tree roots, providing a slow and steady release. However, this method can be less effective for more extensive, mature trees with deeper root systems.


Injection involves injecting fertilizer directly into the tree’s root zone. This method is advantageous for more giant and mature trees with extensive root systems, as it allows the nutrients to reach deeper into the soil. The injection also reduces the risk of fertilizer runoff or leaching, making it a more environmentally friendly option. However, an injection can be more expensive and time-consuming than a surface application and requires specialized equipment and expertise.

Foliar Spraying

Foliar spraying involves spraying fertilizer directly onto the tree’s leaves. This method can help correct nutrient deficiencies quickly, as the nutrients are absorbed directly through the leaves. However, foliar spraying is not a long-term solution and may be less effective than other methods in providing sustained nutrient uptake. Additionally, ensuring uniform coverage of the leaves can be challenging, and the risk of nutrient burn or damage to the foliage is higher than with other methods.

tree fertilizer

Determining The Best Method For Your Trees

When deciding on the best method for fertilizing your trees, consider several factors, including the tree’s age, size, root depth, nutrient requirements, and goals. Surface application may be sufficient for younger and smaller trees, while more extensive and mature trees may benefit from the injection. Foliar spraying may be appropriate for specific nutrient deficiencies or quick correction of minor issues.

When And How Often To Fertilize

Trees require proper care to thrive, and fertilization is an essential element of their care. Fertilizer provides vital nutrients that trees need to grow and develop strong root systems, healthy leaves, and sturdy trunks. However, it’s crucial to know when and how often to fertilize your trees to avoid over or under-fertilization. In this blog post, we’ll explain when to apply fertilizer to trees, the factors that affect how often to fertilize, and tips for determining the appropriate frequency of fertilization for your trees.

When To Apply Fertilizer To Trees

The best time to apply fertilizer to trees depends on the type of fertilizer you use and the specific needs of your trees. Generally, the most appropriate time to fertilize is early spring when trees are actively growing and developing new leaves. Applying fertilizer in the fall is also beneficial as it provides trees with the nutrients they need for winter storage.

Factors That Affect How Often To Fertilize

The frequency of tree fertilization depends on various factors, including the tree’s age, soil quality, and growth rate. For young trees, it’s essential to fertilize them more frequently as they require more nutrients to grow and establish a strong root system. On the other hand, mature trees require less frequent fertilization as their roots are well established, and they have a more robust nutrient uptake system. Soil quality is another crucial factor that affects the frequency of fertilization. Trees growing in poor soil conditions may require more frequent fertilization to compensate for the lack of nutrients in the soil. Lastly, the growth rate of trees is another essential factor to consider when determining how often to fertilize. Trees that grow at a slower rate require less frequent fertilization than those that grow at a faster pace.

Tips For Determining The Appropriate Frequency Of Fertilization For Your Trees

To determine the appropriate frequency of fertilization for your trees, it’s essential to consider their specific needs and the factors mentioned above. Soil testing can also provide valuable information about the nutrient content of your soil and the particular nutrients your trees require. Consulting with an arborist or tree care professional can also help you determine the best fertilizer and frequency of application for your trees based on their age, species, and other factors.

Common Fertilizer Mistakes To Avoid

Trees are valuable to any landscape, providing shade, beauty, and numerous environmental benefits. To keep them healthy and thriving, proper fertilization is essential. However, improper fertilization can lead to severe problems for trees, such as over-fertilization, under-fertilization, and using the wrong type of fertilizer. In this blog post, we’ll discuss common fertilizer mistakes to avoid and provide tips for ensuring your trees get the nutrients they need without harm.


One of the most common fertilizer mistakes is over-fertilization, which occurs when too much fertilizer is applied to the tree. This can lead to excessive growth, weakened roots, and increased susceptibility to disease and pests. To avoid over-fertilization, following the manufacturer’s instructions on the package and applying the fertilizer at the recommended rate is essential. It’s also vital to prevent fertilizing during drought or heat, as this can increase the risk of fertilizer burn.


On the other hand, under-fertilization occurs when trees do not receive enough nutrients. This can lead to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases. To avoid under-fertilization, you must regularly test your soil and determine what nutrients your trees need. You should also follow a regular fertilization schedule and apply the appropriate amount of fertilizer based on your tree’s age and size.

Using The Wrong Type Of Fertilizer

Another common mistake is using the wrong type of fertilizer for your trees. Some fertilizers are designed for specific types of trees, while others are not. For example, some fertilizers may contain high nitrogen levels, which can harm some types of trees. To avoid this mistake, it’s crucial to choose a fertilizer specifically designed for your tree species and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Applying Fertilizer At The Wrong Time

Timing is also critical when it comes to fertilization. Applying fertilizer at the wrong time of year can lead to poor absorption and potential harm to the tree. For example, fertilizing in the fall can stimulate new growth that may not have enough time to harden before winter, leading to winter injury. To avoid this mistake, following a regular fertilization schedule and applying fertilizer at the appropriate time of year based on your tree species is essential.

Proper tree care and fertilization are essential to maintain healthy and thriving trees in our communities. By understanding the critical points discussed in this blog, such as the benefits of tree fertilization, the best time to fertilize, and the importance of hiring a professional, you can ensure the longevity and vitality of your trees.

If you want to learn more about tree fertilization and care or need assistance maintaining your trees, we invite you to contact us today. Our team of experts can provide tailored solutions to your tree care needs, so don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our website for more information. Let’s work together to keep our trees healthy and beautiful for future generations!

Tree Service of Lafayette