How to Fertilize Trees and Shrubs in the Spring

woman holding a seedling

Trees and shrubs that need a health boost, or aren’t performing as well as they should, could use a bit of fertilizer in the Spring. However, fertilizing trees and shrubs is different than fertilizing your lawn. You might need some tips before you get started, and we’ve got you covered. Here is how you fertilize trees and shrubs in the spring.

Choose the Right Fertilizer

Fertilizers are all different. No matter the brand, each should list its ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If you are fertilizing a tree or shrub that is currently fighting off a pest or damage, then you want to give it a fertilizer that is higher in potassium. The year after the damage, use a fertilizer higher in nitrogen. And, if you just want better performance from the plant and it hasn’t suffered anything, then a balanced fertilizer will work.

A note of caution: do not expect fertilizers to heal plant disease or insect infections. It can help plants recover after they have been treated with something for the disease or infection, but it can’t fix that on its own.

Choose the Right Time

You should fertilize trees and shrubs in the Spring, well before their buds open, but after the snow has melted away. This ensures that the fertilizer will be available for the plant when it needs it. If you apply fertilizer much later, the plant will be stimulated to grow much later in the season and may suffer during the Winter because of it.

You can also fertilize in the Fall, but the plant won’t be able to make use of that fertilizer right away. This is a better option for slow-activating fertilizers such as manure.

Unsure of which fertilizer you need for your garden, or want a garden service to do it all for you? No problem! At Lawrence Park Complete Garden Care, our team is here to help. Contact us today.

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man placing fertilizer on soil

Add the Right Amount

A shrub needs about 2 cups of fertilizer for every 100 square feet its roots take up. Its roots are about 50% bigger than the canopy above the ground. Trees need about a cup of fertilizer for every inch of trunk diameter. These are only guides, so check with the fertilizer label to see what the manufacturer recommends. Also, apply fertilizer slowly to make sure that you won’t burn the plant by adding too much. You can always add more fertilizer later, but you can’t take any back.

Once the fertilizer is applied, you need to wet the soil to activate the fertilizer. Some people prefer to wait for Spring rain to fertilize for this reason, but you can just water the spot yourself if you don’t want to wait.

Want a healthy garden this Spring? Contact our team at Lawrence Park Complete Garden Care to learn more about fertilizers and what steps are needed to get that perfect landscape.