As a residential and commercial tree service company, we’ve seen it all. That includes the common culprits behind your trees not growing, especially in urban or developed soil. Watch the video above, or follow along with the transcript below as Grant outlines some common issues that could be hindering the growth of your urban trees.

Video Transcript

Good morning, this is Grant from The Urban Foresters, and we’re going to do a video this morning. Just a quick one.


Driving into the office this morning, I thought this might help people. It’s about urban soils and fertilizing your trees, and why you fertilize your trees. So, this is our office, where I’m just coming in the office this morning, and behind me is a new detention pond that we’re kind of partnering with the folks who are developing the property in front of us. So, here’s the point: urban soils are usually very, very poor in quality. And that affects how your trees grow, how well they grow, and what you should expect in terms of vitality, growth rate, long term health, and all those things.


Because the soils in urban settings are diminished and relatively poor compared to, say a forest, where trees are normally growing, you can do things to help them like fertilize the soil so that the trees grow better. Here’s the point, natural soil, in a forest or in a natural setting, has organic matter that over time (over hundreds and thousands of years even) accumulates at the surface of the soil. In the top soil. So, you hear that right, when you buy a bag of top soil at Home Depot. Well, in a natural setting, organic matter from decaying leaves and plants and sticks and everything (logs) adds valuable nutrients to the top soil that the tree can use.


Now, in urban settings, especially in Houston, when we build, we have to build up because it floods. And, we also have to dig these ponds that you see. They’re called detention ponds or retention ponds, and they detain water during floods. But, intuitively, you can probably think about this, is there any organic matter 10 feet below the surface of the soil? 20 feet below? And this is a deep pond, I think this things 15 feet deep. That deep, deep soil, even just a few feet below the soil, has no nutrients in it. Or not, NO nutrients, but very little organic matter because nothing was decaying or laying down that deep.


And here’s what almost all developers do, they have to, they take all of that soil from the bottom of the detention pond and they stick it out here. Right? They stick it out there and they lay it over the surface of the developed area and they drive over the top of that developed area. They drive over the top of that new developed area with big, heavy machinery. With trucks and, in the distance if you see that orange machine, that machine is designed to turn soil into concrete. I mean, it just smashes it, completely compacts the soil. There’s no more pore space, and the pores like the pores of your skin are inside the soil and there’s supposed to be pockets of air and pockets where water can penetrate. Well, pockets of air and pockets of water are terrible to build things on, right? So these guys out here right now, are spreading that heavy clay deep, deep down soil that they dug out of the pond. They’re spreading it all over this site, right, and they’re going to build a building there. Which is great for the building. But, when you see a warehouse like one of these in the distance there, and you drive up to the front of one of them and there’s four scrubby, awful, ugly looking little oaks that are just doing terrible. Well, the reason they’re doing so terrible is because they’re growing in that concrete. They’re growing in that compacted soil, or at least they’re trying to grow. And the same thing holds true for your home, or pretty much any urban soil. It takes hundreds of years to naturally develop healthy top soil. So even if your house is 50 years old, there’s a good chance that your soil in your yard is diminished or poor in quality.


So, here’s the point, what can you do about that? We can add those things back into the soil after the fact. We do a deep root fertilization with a probe, you push it into the ground, and we inject valuable nutrients and organic matter and even these little bugs, so to speak. They’re called mycorrhizae and they are little funguses that are present in forests naturally, but we can put them in the soil and they bond with your tree’s roots and make things better.


I didn’t intend to talk about this for five minutes. This was longer than I wanted it to be, but you get the point. Urban soils are bad, they’re not great for growing things, and we can help you with that. Any tree service can. It’d be great if you’d use us. It’s The Urban Foresters, and thank you for spending five minutes with me.