The Nutritional Needs of Trees

Most of us understand how important it is to eat a healthy diet.  We carefully choose the foods we eat in order to consume a balance of the nutrients we need.  Making healthy food choices is important to us because we know that our bodies need a variety of nutrients to function correctly.  This truth is a reality for all living creatures, including plants.  Just like humans, trees have nutritional requirements which must be met for healthy growth.  Read on to learn more about the nutritional needs of trees.

What Nutrients Do Trees Need?

You are probably familiar with the dietary needs of people, but what do you know about the nutrients trees need?  There are three categories of nutrients used by trees: macro nutrients, secondary nutrients, and micro nutrients.  Macro nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.  Trees need a substantial amount of these nutrients.  For this reason, these are the main nutrients contained in fertilizers.  Trees do not need as much of the secondary nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.  Finally, trees need very little of the micro nutrients, including iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and boron.

How Do Trees Get These Nutrients?

Trees are generally very self-sufficient.  Many trees survive without any help from anyone.  The incredible design of trees allows them to get the nutrients they need from their environment.  They create food for themselves from sunlight through the amazing process of photosynthesis.  Using their expansive root system, trees are also able to draw nutrients out of the soil.  When left undisturbed, nature provides much of what trees need.  Sometimes, however, our human intervention can cause deficiencies for trees.  In suburban neighborhoods, common practices, such as stripping off top soil and removing leaves in the fall, can upset the delicate balance of nature.

What Happens When Trees Are Deficient of Nutrients?

A tree is dependent on the soil in which it is planted for much of its nutrition.  It is hard to know what nutrients are contained in the soil of a particular area.  Thus, it is also difficult to discern whether a tree is getting what it needs.  It is important to look for outward signs that might indicate a deficiency.  Some of these signs include slower growth than expected; wilting, yellow, or discolored leaves; and sparse foliage.  While these symptoms are noticeable, there are other problems that are not so visible.  Trees that do not get the right nutrients will gradually become weaker.  When weakness occurs in a tree, that tree will become more susceptible to disease, pests, and even damage from weather events.

You may be wondering what role the application of fertilizer plays in correcting nutrient deficiencies.  It is true that the appropriate application of fertilizer will replace the nutrients that are missing in the soil.  However, care should be taken to evaluate what trees are actually missing before applying fertilizer.  Trees can also be harmed by an excessive amount of some nutrients too.  If you suspect your trees may be nutrient deficient, it is always a good idea to get the opinion of an experienced arborist.  The arborists at Ping’s are always available to conduct a thorough inspection of your trees.  We can then make recommendations or apply the needed fertilizer.  As experts in the science of tree care, we have the know-how to take care of all your tree needs.  Call us today at 317-298-8482 to set up an appointment or schedule online.

Fertilizing Trees and Shrubs

tree fertilizerWe all try to eat healthy.  Get plenty of vegetables, enough dairy, and the right amount of protein.  But what about your trees?  What kind of nutrition do they need?  Obviously, trees do not “eat;” instead, they receive nutrients from the soil.  Since the quality of the soil can vary based on location and treatment, trees often benefit from regular fertilizing.

The Advantage of Fertilizing

Trees that are planted in suburban neighborhoods are often in particular need of fertilizing.  Home builders frequently remove rich top soil at the time of building.  Further compounding the problem is our habitual practice of carefully removing all fallen leaves each autumn.  In a natural setting, fallen leaves are allowed to decompose and add nutrients back into the soil.  Since we typically do not allow this to happen in residential areas, you may want to consider fertilizing.  When you fertilize your trees and shrubs, you give them the materials they need to grow and live.  Thus, a fertilized tree will typically grow faster, look healthier, and be able to better defend against insects and diseases.

The Type of Fertilizer

The type of fertilizer you need depends on the condition of your soil.  You can perform a soil test to determine any soil deficiencies.  A complete fertilizer will contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and a soil test will show how much of each nutrient is needed.  The strength of each nutrient in the fertilizer is shown through a numeric designation for each nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, in that order.  For example, 10-10-10 would be a balanced fertilizer containing 10% of each of the nutrients.  Fertilizer can be purchased in either dry or liquid forms.

The Time for Fertilizing

The best schedule for fertilizing is to make applications in both the spring and the fall.  These are times when trees are not under the stress of extreme temperature and are ready to absorb the nutrients you are putting down.  For your fall application, early September to mid-October is ideal.  Tree roots can absorb nutrients as long as the soil temperature is above 40°F.

If you are unsure of what your trees needs or would just rather not mess with fertilizing yourself, the arborists at Ping’s can take care of it for you.  We can assess your soil condition, determine what your trees need, and fertilize your trees.  Give us a call today (317-298-8482) or schedule online to get your fertilizer treatment done while the weather is still good.

TCIA Professional Communications Awards Winner!

PCA 2013 WINNERSPing’s Tree Service is proud to announce it has been awarded a Professional Communications Award from the Tree Care Industry Association — TCIA. More than 20 years old, this program honors marketing and communication excellence within the tree care industry.

In August, we submitted our tree frog ads for entry into the TCIA Professional Communications Awards. These ads were created as part of our company branding initiative and have received a generous amount of positive responses in our advertising areas.

TCIA evaluated each entry on the overall appearance, content quality, adherence to American National Standards Institute and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, and its success in achieving the company’s marketing and communications goals.

To learn more about TCIA’s Professional Communications Award program, visit TCIA.org.

About the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA): Founded in 1938, TCIA is a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture. It has more than 2,300 member companies who recognize stringent safety and performance standards and who are required to carry liability insurance. TCIA also has the nation’s only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that adhere to industry standards for quality and safety; maintain trained, professional staff; and are dedicated to ethical and professional business practices. With access to the latest and best safety standards and training, the typical TCIA member company has 50% fewer accidents than a typical non-member.


 

Preparing Trees For The Winter

WINTER IS COMING!! Before winter officially arrives, there are a few things you can do to prepare your trees for the hazardous weather.

plantingtreePlant the tree. Now is a great time to plant new trees in your yard, just make sure to get them planted prior to a hard freeze. That way they can enjoy the mild weather and frequent rainfall that help roots grow strong. You also want to mulch any new or established trees, but be careful to avoid volcano mulch (mulch piled high against the trunk of the tree).

PrunePrune the canopy.  Fall is a great time of year to have a certified arborist take look at the structure of your trees and make recommendations on how much to prune or trim. Proper pruning allows those brutal winter winds to pass through the trees which results in less breakage and damage, protecting your property.

Feed the roots.  Even during the winter months, your trees’ roots system continues to absorb nutrients until fertilizingthe ground is frozen. Fertilizing your trees helps them stay healthy during freezing temperatures and prepares them to return strong in the spring.

Spray the tree.  Applying dormant oil after insects have laid their eggs will stop insect larvae from developing further.       Come springtime, you’ll have less bugs chewing on your fresh tree buds and fruit. No Worries!! oil sprayDormant oils are less toxic to beneficial bugs and only remove the bad ones.

Need help winterizing your trees, contact us at i[email protected] or call 317.298.8482

 


 

To Fertilize or Not To Fertilize. . . That is the Question.

Tree FertilizationYour trees may be STARVING!  Just like humans, trees are living things.  In order for them to grow and produce, they need a proper diet.  Forest trees naturally get the nutrition they need, because of all the decomposing leaves and branches that lie on the ground around them.  But trees in urban areas (where leaves are raked, branches are picked up, and yards are manicured) lack those natural nutrients.  To feed your trees over the harsh winter months, you may need to fertilize them, and NOW is the best time to do that.  Fall fertilization, before temperatures drop to freezing, allows the roots of established trees to take nutrients from the soil and use them to promote root development and protect against disease and insects.  All the excess is stored in the roots and will be available in the spring for new growth.

However, keep in mind, not all trees are perfect candidates for regular fertilization.  It’s important to have a professional evaluate your trees’ needs. They can recommend the proper balance of nutrition that is best.  Just like overeating is not good for you, too much fertilization can be wasted and end up contaminating the soil.

Learn more:  Tree Fertilization

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