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.