Many people seem to neglect to feed trees and shrubs in spring. Why? We’re not sure. According to the Oregon State University Extension Program, “young trees, especially those with a trunk diameter of less than six inches, can benefit from regular applications of fertilizer.” When those young trees and shrubs receive nitrogen fertilizer, they will grow faster and develop a “denser canopy.” They will also stay green longer in the fall. Why nitrogen? Nitrogen is necessary for new cell formation in all parts of a plant.  (Note: We suggest using 10-8-8 All Purpose Plant Food. Here’s the link.)

Larger trees with extensive root systems may already be getting enough nutrients. If you decide that your tree or shrub needs to be feed, look at it carefully. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • If your tree or shrub is growing less than expected (a good yardstick is that young trees average about a foot of new shoot growth each year; whereas, older trees grow significantly less), you’ll want to feed it.
  • If the color, size or amount of foliage has lessened over the past few years, you’ll want to feed it.
  • If the tree or shrub has recently had insect or disease, then you’ll want to feed it.

Spring time is the better feeding time

Why? Well, your tree or shrub will become metabolically active after feeding. If you were to do this in fall, then the tree or shrub will be shocked when the cold weather hits, de-stimulating it. During the spring, if you feed trees and shrubs, they’ll be growing as the weather improves and the tree and shrub will be better able to withstand the growth process, leaving you with healthier trees and shrubs.

You also want to get them fed early in the season because it takes time for the ingredients to dissolve and permeate the soil. When food gets into the soil early in the season, it has plenty of time and spring rain to soak into the soil, giving the trees and shrubs the nutrients they need. Remember – winter is tough on trees and shrubs and the sooner we can get them fed in spring, the better.

What if I’m setting out new shrubs and trees in the spring?

In that case, you’ll want to wait about six to eight weeks to fertilize them. A slow-release fertilizer is best for new plants. Make sure to provide a light application of fertilizer for new shrubs and trees. You don’t want to over-feed them either.

No matter what you’re tree or shrub situation is – Emerald Lawns can help you determine the best fertilizers, the best time to lay down the fertilizer and the best way to do it. Contact us today at 512-990-2199 for more information.