Trees tend to do a pretty good job of looking after themselves. As long as they receive plenty of sunlight, adequate water, and have enough room to grow, they generally stay in pretty good shape. However, there’s something else that also greatly affects their health and appearance. It’s something that many of us might overlook because, well, it’s all under our feet! What I’m referring to is the condition of the soil. There are several factors that play a part in determining the condition of soil, but one of the most important is a soil’s nutrient content.
Most soils have many different kinds of nutrients. There are 17 essential nutrients in total, but the three that are taken up the most by plants and that are the most responsible for keeping them vigorous and strong are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
If your soil is lacking in any of these nutrients, your trees will be able to tell you through their appearance. Here are a few common symptoms to look out for in your trees that could be an indication that your soil has a nutrient deficiency:
- Poor/stunted growth
- Abnormal discoloration of the foliage
- Premature death of older leaves/needles
- Dieback, or “burning” at leaf/needle tips and along edges
So what do you do if you see any of these symptoms above and are concerned that your soil might have a nutrient deficiency? The best thing to do would be to have your soil tested so that the deficient nutrient can be accurately determined and remedied. The only issue is that this can be somewhat of a lengthy process and will likely involve spending more than you might expect.
An alternative that’s worth considering is to have a deep root fertilization done. This is a service in which a technician injects a liquid fertilizer solution into the soil beneath the surface to maximize the soil’s uptake of the fertilizer and to minimize the amount of the fertilizer that is lost to being absorbed by smaller surface plants. This is done across the tree’s rooting zone with the whole goal of getting as much of the fertilizer towards as many of the tree’s roots as possible.
Different fertilizers are used depending on the time of year also. During the growing season, fertilizers with more nitrogen content are generally used to help support new green growth, and in the dormant season when most active green growth has ceased, fertilizers with more potassium are generally used to help stimulate healthy root growth. Although this is a service that can be performed during any time of the year, the best times of the year to have this done are late fall/early winter and late winter/early spring.
Keeping your trees in the best shape possible begins with their tree soil condition. If you’re concerned about the condition of your soil or have an interest in deep root fertilization, feel free to reach out to us and one of our arborists will be happy to help! If you’re doing everything you can to provide for your soil, you can be sure that it will be reflected in your trees.