Why Fertilizing Trees In Winter Is Not A Bad Idea

Yep. Fertilizing trees in winter is a thing. It’s often called dormant feeding and it has its advantages. 

Many arborists and landscapers, particularly in the north, fertilize trees and shrubs from late fall through late winter. But some will wait until early spring when they’re actively developing above ground. In either case, the trees are still dormant.

But there are some added benefits to fertilizing trees in winter. It may not be the ideal time of year for you (unless you have a good winter coat). But let’s find out why winter is such a great time to fertilize.

Why Fertilize Trees In Winter?

Fertilizing trees in winter is considered safe for deciduous trees, or trees that lose their leaves at the end of the growing season. By fertilizing when the tree is dormant, you eliminate the risk of leaf burn. 

Spraying water, fertilizer, or chemicals onto plant leaves in hot, sunny conditions is the most common cause of leaf burn (aka leaf scorch). Leaf scorch can happen when the water on the leaf (in the hot sun) acts as a magnifying glass. It can intensify the sunlight that’s reaching the leaf, cause it to overheat, and ultimately burn.

Another reason you may want to fertilize in the winter is if you notice your tree leaves yellowing before they are supposed to. Yellowing leaves could be a sign that the pH level in your soil is off. An easy way to replenish it is through fertilization.

What Type Of Fertilizer Should Be Used?

pH isn’t the only nutrient trees lack from time to time. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient that is required for numerous plant processes. Phosphorus and potassium are also found missing in most soils, so they too should be replenished.

How To Fertilize Trees In Winter

Before you begin, it’s critical to understand how to apply tree fertilizer, especially in the winter. Typically, you’d use a liquid fertilizer around the base of your tree. To determine how far out away from the base you should fertilize, think of it this way. For every inch of trunk diameter at chest height spread your fertilizer around the tree. So, if your chest is 4 feet off the ground, you’ll want to spread in a circular pattern about that large. 

Established trees or mature trees will need more fertilizer than newly planted ones. Getting a soil test done can also help you determine the amount and type of fertilizer that you need. You’ll be able to determine the precise amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium needed for the types of trees you have in your yard.

Another option is to get tree injections. Tree injections are very effective because they provide nutrients directly to the root system. They’re typically part of a fall fertilization plan but are a great option if the ground is already frozen. 

Fertilizing Is An Important Part Of A Tree Care Plan

No matter what time of the year you decide to do it, fertilizing is a critical part of any tree care plan. And Safari Tree’s experts are here to help. Whether it’s laying out an annual schedule for your trees and shrubs, or handling your fertilization needs first-hand. We’d be happy to provide you with a strategy that will keep your yard looking its best. Contact us at any time.

What’s A Good Fall Fertilizer For Trees And Shrubs

Whenever the topic of fertilizer comes up, the first thing that comes to mind is probably your lawn. But your trees and shrubs need nourishment, too, especially before the snow starts flying. And there are many good fall fertilizers for trees and shrubs that you can try.

Continue reading “What’s A Good Fall Fertilizer For Trees And Shrubs”

Types of Trees In Michigan: Eastern Hemlock

The Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is one of the types of trees that are native to Michigan. Hemlocks are characterized by their flat, dark green needles with silvery undertones. Their bark is also deeply grooved their branches are typically described as “drooping”.

This evergreen conifer is not only beautiful, it’s home to many wildlife and can be found in many parts of the United States.

So, let’s take a closer look at the Eastern Hemlock tree, where it likes to grow, and what is threatening its existence.

Eastern Hemlock Facts

Although it’s a native tree to Michigan, the Department of Agriculture says you’ll find Eastern Hemlocks all over North America. It extends from eastern Minnesota to southern Quebec, then through Nova Scotia, before descending via the Appalachian Mountains to reach northern Georgia and Alabama. It grows in various national parks and is the state tree of Pennsylvania.

Local growing conditions determine the size of these trees, but in favorable conditions, they can reach up to 70 ft. in height and spread out up to 35 ft. A Hemlock can stand over 100 feet tall in some places, typically near the Atlantic coast and in the Appalachian Mountains where the trees often reach their greatest height.

It grows into the shape of a pyramid, but one of its most distinctive traits is the dropping nature of its branches. 

Hemlock prefers north-facing slopes of hills and mountains or tucked into ravines where there is more shade and cooler conditions. Mature hemlocks are shade tolerant. They also prefer acidic, well-drained soils that are moist. 

Its pinecones are very small and hang from the tips of new growth of twigs. Other common names of this evergreen include Canada hemlock and hemlock spruce.

Birds Love Hemlock Trees

Numerous bird species prefer hemlocks as nesting trees. They are protected by their tall branches and dense foliage. Kinglets and several other types of warblers, such as Blackburnians and black-throated greens, are among the birds that build their nests on hemlock trees.

type of tree in MichiganFor birds like crossbills and pine siskins, the seed cones are a source of food throughout the winter. Deer like to lie under the branches of hemlock, and porcupines eat its little twigs for breakfast. Where the snow isn’t too deep, they’ll use them as a refuge.

Pests That Threaten Eastern Hemlock

In recent years an invasive pest called woolly adelgid has been terrorizing Eastern Hemlocks. It’s wreaking havoc in areas of Canada and the northeastern United States where hemlock is the main forest tree as well as an ornamental. Researchers believe the wooly adelgid arrived in Michigan on infested nursery stock from northeastern states.

The wooly adelgid is an aphid-like insect that attacks the tree by inserting its long mouthparts at the base of needles. Once it’s attached, it begins to feed on the tree’s stored starches. They will remain in the same spot their whole life, growing into adulthood and continually feeding on the tree. This damages the canopy of the tree by disrupting the flow of nutrients to its twigs and needles. The tree will typically die within 4-10 years.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development continues to verify new detections of the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid. They believe the spread occurs in a couple of different ways. The insects can be transported to new locations by wind, birds or mammals coming into contact with an infested branch, or by cars, boats or RVs parked under infested trees.

Protect Your Eastern Hemlock

The Safari Tree pest control package combines killing insects and their larvae by strengthening your tree. If your trees are stronger they’ll be able to survive the pests that do manage to attack. 

We start in the spring by spreading dormant oil on your trees. This will cut down on early insect infestations. We will also fertilize your tree’s deep roots later on in the season. This allows it to thrive all summer long.

In fact, our 7-step tree healthcare program is perfectly designed for Michigan’s four-season climate. If you’re interested in learning more about how Safari Tree can protect the trees in your yard, contact us today

What Causes Spruce Tree Diseases In Michigan?

Spruce tree diseases in Michigan are becoming all too common. From the newly identified fungus, we discovered last year, to an old nemesis like tip blight, it seems the spruce is always under attack. But knowing where these diseases come from, and how to treat your trees if they get sick, can help you keep them in tip-top shape. 

Continue reading “What Causes Spruce Tree Diseases In Michigan?”

Types of Trees In Michigan: Tulip Tree

The many types of trees in Michigan make living in this part of the country very appealing to most people. There are lots of varieties and they grow in a lot of different shapes and sizes. They’re all special in their own way, but one type of flowering tree in Michigan that really stands out is the Tulip Tree. 

Continue reading “Types of Trees In Michigan: Tulip Tree”

What’s The Best Fall Fertilizer For Trees?

It’s not just your grass that could use a boost this time of year. You often need to consider a fall fertilizer for trees and shrubs, too. 

Most soils in Michigan can typically provide an adequate nutrient reserve to meet the needs of trees and shrubs. Even those that are planted next to lawns can get some of their nutrients from lawn fertilizers. That being said, depending on the properties of your soil, nutrient deficiencies can occur. 

So, let’s take a look at why you should consider fertilizing your trees in the fall and what the best fall fertilizer is for them.

When To Apply A Fall Fertilizer For Trees

It used to be that trees and shrubs that needed a nutrient boost got their annual fertilizer application in early spring. It’s the time just before active growth begins for the year. Many experts accepted this timing for years. And although early spring is a good time, new research indicates there is an even better time.

Now a majority of arborists consider late September or October a great time to consider a fall fertilizer for trees and shrubs. They say to apply it then, or about a month after the first killing frost. Why? Because plants (including trees) will use the nutrients they need in different ways throughout the year.

Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies In Trees

Here are the three most common nutrient problems that homeowners in Michigan typically see in trees and shrubs. They are deficiencies of nitrogen, iron, or manganese. 

 fall fertilizer for treesNitrogen deficiencies may occur in trees since it is the element that is needed in the largest amounts. The reasons that trees become deficient in nitrogen include:

  • Most of them are located in mulch beds that use up nitrogen as they decompose. 
  • It is lost from the soil over time through leaching. 
  • Removing leaves each fall interrupts the natural recycling of nitrogen that occurs in native forests. 

Think about that last one the next time you’re raking leaves.

Iron and manganese deficiencies are common in certain landscape trees. These deficiencies are typically associated with alkaline soil pH. In both cases, soils may contain adequate amounts of the element, but availability and uptake are reduced by alkaline soil conditions.

The Best Fall Fertilizer For Trees

Most experts recommend applying 1 to 3 pounds of slow-release nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of tree bed and cultivating lightly. But to figure out the exact amount of fertilizer you’ll need, you’ll have to do some math. 

Start by calculating the square footage of your beds. Then take those measurements with you to your local garden center and determine how much you’ll need.   fall fertilizer for trees

Using a slow-release fertilizer is important. That’s because there will still be nutrients in the soil come spring when your plants start to grow. A slow-release fertilizer also ensures that your trees get the right amount of nitrogen and not too much at one time.

If you have a tree or shrub that does not flower well, a dose of superphosphate will help promote flower growth. However, if the plant is not located in the right spot, all the superphosphate in the world won’t make it flower.

When Not To Fertilize A Tree

And keep this in mind. Don’t fertilize newly planted or newly transplanted trees. These are trees that were planted or transplanted less than two years prior. 

Applying fertilizer to newly transplanted trees can excessively dry roots. This is called burning. Wait until after the third year before you consider fertilizing it. At that point, it will be considered an established tree.

Let Safari Tree Help

Safari Tree’s year-round applications include a fall deep-root-feeding that delivers nutrients straight to the root system of your trees. This helps your plants recover from the long hot summer and prepares them for the cold winter season ahead.

You’ll also get a fall anti-desiccant spray. It winterizes your evergreen trees and shrubs. 

If you’re going to need help winterizing your yard, contact us today. We’ll be happy to help.

Are Leaves Good For Grass?

 If you’re asking yourself “Are leaves good for grass?” chances are, you don’t feel like raking them. The short answer to the question is “Yes.” Leaves are good for your grass, but you probably shouldn’t just ditch clearing them altogether. 

Leaves will decompose, but if you leave them on your lawn and they begin to pile up, they can actually do more harm than good. That’s because when they get wet (from rain or even snow)  wet leaves smother and kill the grass. But there are a number of different ways to approach your leaf harvest. And depending on your particular situation, it doesn’t always involve raking.

So, let’s take a look at why you should avoid raking leaves and talk about a couple of alternatives (composting and mulching) that will help your lawn to thrive.

Why Mulch Or Compost Leaves?

You should compost or mulch your leaf litter to keep them out of landfills. Michigan law requires all yard waste to be composted – it may not be disposed of in a regular landfill.  This started in 1995 because of the many problems caused by yard clippings in landfills. This led to the banning of yard waste from Michigan landfills. leaves good for grass

Why? According to EPA data, yard trimmings, which include leaves, can create as much as 34 million tons of waste each year, which is about 13% of all waste generated. The majority of it comes from composted or mulched in-state programs, but according to the EPA, as much as 11 million tons can still end up in landfills. This accounts for just under 8% of all waste in landfills.

Try Composting

Composting involves scooping leaves into a pile or containing them in a bin and leaving them to naturally decompose. leaves good for grass

It provides rich fertilizer for gardens and landscape plants. You can buy Bins or easily make one out of low-cost materials. You can add veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells, which also helps to cut down on your kitchen waste. Just don’t add items like meat scraps that can smell bad and attract pests. 

You can learn more about composting with this handy info sheet.


If a compost pile isn’t ideal—try this. You can also use a lawnmower to shred leaves and compost them in a place where they will fertilize the grass. All you do is roll your mulching mower over the fallen leaves. Dried leaves are easier to mulch than wet ones, but mulching leaves (and your grass) and leaving them to decompose can become an important part of your lawn care regimen.leaves good for grass

Mulched leaves keep the soil warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The nutrients provided by mulching also reduces the amount and expense of fertilizer need to achieve green-up in the spring. You can also mulch perennial flower beds with shredded leaves or till them right into garden soil.

And if that’s not enough, research was done at Michigan State University actually shows that leaving the leaves on your yard in such a manner not only does your lawn no harm, but it can actually suppress weed growth.

Let Lush Lawn & Safari Tree Help

The Lush Lawn Fall Lawn Care and Restoration package will provide your grass with all of the protection it needs to survive the winter and thrive come spring. Contact us today.

What Is Tree Pruning?

An important part of tree care is proper pruning. It will contribute to the healthy growth of your trees, but it shouldn’t be confused with trimming tree branches. There is a difference between the two.  

So, let’s answer the question: “What is tree pruning?” and find out how it’s different from tree trimming. 

Why Trim Or Prune Your Trees?

Left alone, your trees can become unwieldy, with branches growing in various directions. This uneven growth can leave your trees looking scraggly, unbalanced, or misshapen. Overgrowth can also have an impact on the health of the tree and any adjoining plants. Extra branches can prevent them from getting the moisture, nutrients, and light they need to thrive.  

This is where trimming comes in.

What is Tree Trimming?

Tree trimming helps trees, shrubs, and hedges grow in a healthy manner. It’s focused primarily on aesthetics. You trim to maintain a tree’s desired shape and appearance.

what is tree pruning

When trimming, try not to remove more than 25% of a tree’s canopy at one time.

Clean out the clutter (like dead branches). You should also trim away growth coming from the roots or base of the trunk. 

But if your tree is really overgrown and out of shape, you may need to prune instead.

What Is Tree Pruning?

Pruning is when you selectively remove branches from a tree. The goal is to remove unwanted branches, improve the tree’s structure, and direct new, healthy growth. what is tree pruning

Pruning is a little more involved since it typically calls for making two types of cuts: heading cuts to shorten single branches and thinning cuts to remove branches. 

Heading cuts should be made at a 45-degree angle and placed just after a healthy bud. A thinning cut should occur as closely as possible to the location where a branch intersects with its primary limb.

But different tree species will call for different cuts. If you cut branches in the wrong direction or wrong spot, you can do more damage than good. 

When To Prune Your Trees

The best time to prune your trees is late fall or early spring. In both cases, it’s right on the cusp of the dormant seasons. 

This makes it easier to see the structure of your trees because they are either free of leaves or are about to be. This makes it easier to see what branches need trimming and makes it easier to make proper cuts outside the branch collar and in the direction of growth.

When Not To Trim Or Prune

In short, done correctly, trimming or pruning will help the structural integrity of your tree. But there are times when you should avoid it. 

If your canopy is high enough that it’s getting close to power lines, you may need to call in a company that offers pruning services. 

Safari Tree offers a 7-Step Tree Healthcare Program that’s perfectly designed for Michigan’s four-season climate. With 15 years of knowledge and expertise, the professionals at Safari Tree help maintain healthy trees and shrubs all year round. Contact us today. 

Types Of Trees In Michigan: The Paper Birch

ir The paper birch is a uniquely elegant tree that has a rich and useful history. Long before it became an ornamental tree, Native Americans used its wood to make baskets, canoes, and baby carriers, and the thin, white bark was used as paper to write on and send as messages. 

Today, these lovely trees are one of the most prevalent types of trees in Michigan and they can be found in every county in the state, including the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. 

Let’s discuss how you can identify a paper birch on your property, and how to take care of it so it will thrive.

What is a Paper Birch Tree?


The paper birch, otherwise known as the white birch, silver birch, and canoe birch, is a lovely tree with white, papery bark. It’s considered to be a pioneer species.  This means that it’s a hardy tree that often grows in environments that have been disturbed in some way.

Paper birch trees are easy to spot by their smooth, white bark. As the bark ages, it begins to curl up and peel off of the tree, creating a beautiful effect.

In the springtime, paper birch trees produce oval-shaped leaves that come to a tip. Their serrated edges alternate on the branches of the tree. When autumn arrives, the leaves turn a radiant shade of yellow before falling off of the tree. Since they lose their leaves each autumn and grow them again in the spring, paper birch trees are classified as deciduous.

Along with new leaves, the paper birch produces pretty yellow flowers, called catkins, each spring, making them a perfect ornamental tree to compliment your home’s landscape.

How to Identify One in Your Yard

types-of-trees-in-MichiganIf you’re curious about identifying the tree species in your yard, the paper birch makes it easy to do. It’s one of the easiest types of trees in Michigan to identify. You can’t miss the telltale white, smooth bark of a paper birch tree. In fact, it’s the white bark that allows them to grow in northern climates like ours.

According to Northern Woodlands Magazine, ecologists believe paper birch trees have white bark to protect their core temperatures during the winter months.  White objects reflect the sun’s rays. You can also identify a paper birch by its oval-shaped leaves and bright yellow flowers in the springtime. Ornamental trees surround many homes. You can also find them near rivers and along the side of the road. 

How to Take Care of Paper Birch Trees

If there’s a paper birch tree on your property, you’re in luck. Their elegant, contrasting colors bring vibrancy to your home landscaping, but they’re also very easy to maintain. Paper birch trees aren’t fussy and they don’t need a lot of extra attention. They’re hardy trees that have learned to adapt and thrive in all kinds of conditions. Your paper birch will grow best in well-drained soil. They also need full to partial sun in order to grow. 

Paper birch trees also grow pretty quickly. If you’ve got a young tree on your property, you can expect it to grow from 13 to 24 inches each year until it reaches a mature height of 30 to 65 feet tall. Regularly prune your paper birch tree and keep an eye out for pests like bronze birch borers or birch leafminers, since they can cause your tree to become weak and more susceptible to disease.

Paper birch trees are a great asset to your property and one of the most prevalent types of trees in Michigan. So it’s important to keep them healthy and strong. Here at Safari Tree, we’re here to help you with all your tree needs. Contact us today for more information.


What Are the Best Trees to Plant in Michigan?

Spring is here — and among warming temperatures and flowers blooming, that means it’s time for tree planting season. Planting trees in the early spring, right as the ground starts to thaw and plants are still dormant, gives new trees ample time to establish their roots and develop their leaves before the harsh conditions of summer and winter arrive.

This still leaves the question of which trees to plant. Ideally, you’ll want to find trees that not only add beauty to your outdoor space but ones that are also native to your climate. That way, you’ll get the aesthetics you want without all the added time, maintenance and costs. Not to mention, native plants are also beneficial to the environment, as they require fewer pesticides and less water to maintain.

With those elements in mind, here are three trees we recommend planting in your Michigan yard.

3 of the Best Trees to Plant in Your Michigan Yard

1. Eastern Redbud Tree

If you’re looking to add a pop of color to your outdoor space, the Eastern Redbud is an ideal fit. This native tree is recognized for its pink and purple flowers that line its branches in early spring, and the heart-shaped leaves that emerge as the temperature warms. Eastern Redbuds also attract a variety of wildlife, from butterflies to songbirds, inviting the soothing sights and sounds of nature into your yard.

eastern redbud tree

Source: Getty Images

2. White Oak Tree

Most homeowners crave a mix of sun and shade in their outdoor space. This can come from the addition of structures, but it can also come from the trees you plant. The white oak is a perfect example. Between their majestic size and sprawling branches, white oaks offer ample shade to Michigan yards on sunny days.  They also produce acorns that attract the likes of white-tailed deer, squirrels, and other small mammals. In the fall, these native trees also grace yards with pops of burgundy and red colors that create a dynamic, beautiful look.

white oak tree

Source: Getty Images

3. Crabapple Tree

The crabapple tree is a native tree that checks a lot of boxes. White or pink blossoms in the early spring set the scene for bees to pollinate. Once pollination is complete, fruits begin to grow on the tree and are ready to pick by early fall.  Crabapple trees make a visual impact year-round. This is especially true in the winter months when the red fruit sits against the backdrop of snow-covered branches.

crabapple tree

Source: Getty Images

As a tree care expert with branches across Southeast Michigan, Safari Tree is passionate about helping local homeowners plant the right trees and keep them healthy and beautiful. Learn more about our tree care services here.