Should you fertilise your trees?

Should you fertilise your trees

Adding fertiliser to your trees can make a difference to their health and vitality. The trick is knowing when to fertilise, how to fertilise and how much fertiliser to apply. In this article, we’ll answer all those questions.


How to tell if your trees need fertiliser

If you spend every weekend sweeping up leaves and twigs in an effort to keep your garden looking neat and tidy, you’re doing your trees a disservice. In forests, it’s this organic material that feeds the soil with essential nutrients as it decays.


When trying to decide whether you should invest in fertiliser for your trees, you need to look at the condition of your soil. These are the signs that your soil is lacking in nutrients:


  •  Your trees aren’t producing as many tree buds as they have in previous years.
  • Your trees produce fewer leaves each spring, or they’re smaller than normal.
  • You notice more dead branches or dead tips.
  • The leaves your trees produce are yellow or purple.


If you spot any of these signs, it’s a good idea to add some fertiliser.


When should you fertilise your trees?

Trees require different types of fertiliser, in different quantities at different stages:


  • Newly planted

Adding a touch of fertiliser will help a newly planted tree settle-in to its new location. The extra nutrients will help it to grow a strong set of roots that will anchor it firmly as it matures. Don’t over-do it though as a sudden growth spurt can cause more harm than good.


  • Young trees

Add fertiliser to saplings if you want to encourage rapid growth. Although it’s generally better to rely on slow and steady growth to produce sturdy trees, if your soil quality is poor, you should add fertiliser. Stick to feeding saplings with fertiliser twice a year at most.


  • Mature, established trees

At this stage of life, trees do not require that much fertiliser, so you can cut back and use it to maintain the health of your trees. As trees age, their growth rate slows so you simply need to keep an eye on your soil quality and add fertiliser as necessary.


The best time to fertilise trees is early to mid-spring. This is when trees enter a growing phase, and the added nutrients will supply the tree with the energy it needs to produce new leaves and shoots.


How to apply fertiliser

This will largely depend on the type of fertiliser you use. You can spread granular fertiliser around the area under the drip line of the trees (the edge of the canopy) or ‘inject’ liquid fertiliser into holes which have punched into the soil around the tree. Your local nursery will be able to give you advice based on the product you select.


When applying fertiliser, keep these points in mind:


  • You do not need to remove mulch when applying fertiliser. Mulch helps the soil to retain moisture and also adds nutrients back into the soil. It does not act as quickly as fertiliser, but will still improve the quality of the soil as it decomposes.


  • Avoid putting fertiliser up against the trunk of the tree. The chemicals in the fertiliser can ‘burn’ it, so take care that it doesn’t come into direct contact with the tree.


  • Always follow the instructions on the label. This is the best way to ensure that you are applying the fertiliser correctly.


If you’d like to have your trees assessed by an expert, contact Brands Tree Felling. With decades of experiencing caring for trees, we’ll be able to give you the right advice.