Plant Health Care

Why Fertilize Trees?

Trees are living breathing structures that require many of the same things that you and I need in order to survive and thrive in an ever changing environment. How we meet those needs are essential to survival. Why?

Trees like humans are unable at times to care for themselves.

Trees can’t get up and take shelter like you and I during a storm. They are unable to uproot themselves to go inside and seek shade when the sun is hot and reaches extremes. Trees can’t ask for a glass of cool water when they are thirsty. Trees can’t go out and gather food from another source if that food is not available in their immediate environment. Yard trees can’t put on a bug spray when being attacked by insects. The list goes on. 

Trees just like horses, dogs, cats and birds can survive on their own in the wild, still they do much better when they are given a little help. Our yard trees do not live in a forest environment where they could benefit from the ecological benefit afforded by such a natural setting. Our yard trees are in a domesticated setting now where the conditions are far different in so many ways. Let me enumerate just a few. 

Soil Structure

The type or mix of soil (Silt Sand Clay etc.) is very important to our plants. Often much of the natural soil structure needed for trees to thrive was removed or changed when the house was built. Natural water movement is disrupted. This will impact the health growth and anchorage of a tree’s root system.

Soil Compaction Friendly Lift won't damage lawns

Soil Compaction

Simply put, Tree roots need air. Compaction of the soil in our yards (front or back) can happen in so many ways over time by human activity which can greatly stress our trees. Often trees die because the soil in our yards have compacted over time or during construction. When soils compact, pore space is diminished which can lead to wilting and death. In less extreme cases it is often a contributing factor in the decline of health and tree vigor.


Plants have very different requirements based on genetic factors. Some plants enjoy more acidic soils while others thrive in more neutral or alkaline soils. The soil ph also has an impact on what nutrients are available to the plants. We may have a lot of iron in our water for example, but that iron may not be available to the plant if the soil ph is too high. A good understanding of soil pH and soil buffering capacity is thus important in understanding your trees basic needs. 

Organic Matter

In a balanced forest setting, the trees all benefit from a natural nutrient recycling program where the leaves each year drop and remain beneath the trees. As those leaves break down they give off nitrogen and other essential components that are basic to trees and the micro culture of organisms that thrive in the soil beneath them. These organisms live in a symbiotic relationship with the root systems of our plants and are essential to their future growth. Again these essential requirements are either not available at all, or are often quite lacking in a domestic setting. Therefore our urban forest needs our help if it is to thrive. 

When should I fertilize my trees? 

When should we seek help in caring for our trees. What type of fertilizer is best and what time of year should it be applied? Should our trees be sprayed or would they benefit from a more organic approach to disease control. These are just a few of the questions we may wonder. Most home owners would benefit from consulting with a reputable tree care professional who employs certified arboirsts and can professionally provide the services needed. 

What kind of tree fertilizer should I use? 

Treatment and types of fertilizers are applied depending on the needs of the plant and vary greatly on a case by case basis. NPK “nitrogen phosphorus and potassium” are sold in different amounts and in different forms. Some contain micronutrients in addition to macronutrients also in varying amounts. Will a fast release fertilizer be used or would a slow release fertilizer be better in our case? Should liquid fertilizer be used or a solid dry fertilizer be used? Will that fertilizer be spread over the surface, or will it be applied as a deep root feeding (six to twelve inches) or even deeper in some cases beneath the soil. Will the treatment be injected beneath the bark into the xylem of the tree for systemic action or should it be applied directly on the foliage?

Here at Dawson Tree Care we are committed to caring for your yard and trees beyond the initial sale. We have a team of plant care professionals that can aid and assist you to grow and cultivate a thriving green environment around your home that will be the envy of friends, family and neighbors. 

As our natural forests are disappearing, it becomes even more critical to improve the health of our urban forest. Each one of us as property owners must do our part to contribute. 

Contact Us for your plant health care needs.

248 887-5228

6220 Grass Lk Rd.
White Lake Michigan 48383