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Tree and Shrub Fertilizer: Surface vs. Subsurface Applications

Discover the differences between granular surface fertilizer and subsurface liquid fertilizer, and find out which method is best for your trees and shrubs.

Fertilizing trees and shrubs in the fall is vital for optimal tree health and growth. Fall is the best time to fertilize trees and shrubs, as they are putting extra effort into root development – rather than flower or leaf development. Adding extra nutrients will only help the trees and shrubs develop stronger root systems, which helps promote long term health and appeal.  There are two main types of tree and shrub fertilizer applications that can be used in the fall: subsurface and surface fertilizers.subsurface tree fertilizer

Subsurface liquid fertilizers are applied through injections, and are injected directly into the root zone to ensure fast action from the fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer injections require fairly complex equipment and should only be completed by trained professionals. One drawback of subsurface fertilizer injection is that you can actually inject the fertilizer too deeply – effectively missing the root zone and rendering the fertilizer useless.

Although subsurface injections can be great when done properly, granular surface fertilizer is a wiser choice for homeowners. Granular fertilizer spread liberally through shrub beds and around the base of trees can be every bit as effective as (or more effective than) subsurface injections. Granular applications are less expensive than subsurface liquid injections, and often times they produce better results.

Fertilization of trees and shrubs in the fall is always a good idea for established, mature trees and shrubs; however, it is imperative to fertilize newly planted or transplanted specimens. Fall is an important time for root development, and young (or recently relocated) trees and shrubs can really use the added nutrients to help establish a strong root system.

To learn more about fertilization, request a free consultation with one of our plant health care specialists.

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