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Feed Your Trees

Putting Nutrients Where They Are Needed

Maureen Sexsmith-West

ISA Certified Arborist, PR-4600A

Our Prairie landscape had very few trees – there were no natural microbes that benefit trees. The few trees that scattered the landscape were found along river or tributary valleys. Grasses were the primary plant in the landscape.

In an urban yard we have a huge desire to incorporate trees into our ‘Urban Oasis’. We continually remove organic matter such as lawn clippings, leaves and organic matter to keep a ‘tidy’ appearance. Your plants are competing to extract whatever nutrients exist in the soil. These need to be replaced. Deep root fertilization is an excellent alternative.


Tree Fertilization Products are most effective when applied at the appropriate depth and in the region where roots can uptake the product most efficiently


There is much more to a good fertilization program than picking up a “garden variety” product. It has been our experience that tree spikes rarely break down in our clay soils – rather, they can create hot spots which can actually cause damage to sensitive roots. Surface applications seldom reach the root zone. In newer developments, where the ‘top soil’ is stripped for construction and then massive machines are driven repeatedly over the base layer, compacting the soil to the point where it better resembles cement,. What tree could grow well in this environment? Moisture cannot be absorbed readily and roots have difficulty penetrating where there is no oxygen available. This condition can also occur during landscape renovations or home improvement projects.

Deep Root Fertilization (DRF) is intended to be a supplement which combined with better composting/yard practices, appropriate irrigation and routine pruning methods will ensure your trees and shrubs remain healthier. DRF serves many purposes. It adds missing elements to the soil – each species has different needs and understanding this is the key to a successful program. The high pressure injection helps break up the soil making it easier for roots to uptake water and nutrients. It is applied at a depth where the roots are found. Surface applications are often used up by turf and flowers before any benefits can reach your tree’s root system. Over application of nitrogen can cause excess leaf development which will attract a wide range of insects. Understanding this balance is very important.

A healthy tree in a natural stand can live well over 100 years. Urban stresses such as “gravel” landscapes, reflected heat and radiation, compaction, pollution, improper watering for the species, improper pruning (stubbing/topping) and planting locations will reduce this. Stressed trees invite pests and diseases to your plant and this become costly to control. The cost of a good fertilization program is substantially less than the cost of a removal or annual applications of pest control products.

It is always best to consider addressing what may be the cause of changing health of a tree. This can be a combination of soil amendments and fertilization and a program of cultural remedies such as pruning or modifying your irrigation practices.


We offer vast knowledge of local growing conditions in combination with the species typically grown in our region. Our Certified Arborists are trained to recognized declining health and identify diseases and pests. We will explain why we are recommending a plant health care program for your site.




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