When it comes to landscaping, newly planted trees and shrubs require special attention to ensure their health and growth. To achieve this, it's important to fertilize them correctly. Slow-release fertilizers are the best option for newly planted trees and shrubs, as they reduce the risk of burning and water contamination. General purpose fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sometimes trace elements.
Nitrogen is essential for the growth of stems and leaves, while phosphorus is needed for good plant health and energy. Potassium is necessary for root development and plant health. Trace elements are used in very low concentrations, but they can be a limiting factor in plant growth in some areas. The easiest and fastest way to fertilize trees and shrubs is to spread granular fertilizer evenly over the bed or root zone. Underground applications of dry or liquid fertilizers are not more effective than spray methods in most cases, but they can help prevent fertilizer runoff from a steep slope.
Fertilizer stakes or spikes are expensive and inefficient ways to fertilize, while deep root feeding is generally not advantageous. Liquid fertilizers can be poured directly into the soil around the root area, or mixed with water for irrigation. If there is mulch on the soil surface, you can still apply liquid or granulated fertilizer on top. Just make sure that your tree or shrub is well irrigated so that it gets soaked and the fertilizer doesn't concentrate too much in certain areas. Never fertilize in late summer or early fall because the available nutrients will stimulate new growth at a time when trees and shrubs are preparing for dormancy. The amount of fertilizer to be applied is based on the area of the vegetable bed or on the calculated root zone of the plants or trees.
A complete fertilizer formula with an NPK ratio of 16-4-8, 12-4-8, or 12-6-6 should work well for most trees and shrubs. Acid-forming fertilizers are useful for maintaining a low soil pH for acid-loving plants. Using mulch is also a good idea, especially when planting trees, as it not only reduces water evaporation from the soil but also prevents grass from competing with the developing root system of trees and keeps mowers and weeders away from the tender bark of young trees. A standard soil test will determine the pH level of the soil and recommend any modifications needed to provide an optimal environment for the trees and shrubs that grow there. In conclusion, slow-release fertilizers are a great option for newly planted trees and shrubs as they reduce the risk of burning and water contamination. Granular fertilizer should be spread evenly over the bed or root zone, while liquid fertilizer can be poured directly into the soil around the root area.
Mulch should also be used to reduce water evaporation from the soil and prevent grass from competing with tree roots. Finally, a standard soil test should be done to determine pH levels and any modifications needed.