Deep Root Feeding Trees, Shrubs & Roses-
We often get caught up thinking about our turf this time of year with all the ads on tv, newspaper, mailers and flyers pitching the importance of a healthy lawn. What often gets overlooked are what can be some of the most expensive plants in your landscape, trees and shrubs. Why? Well, we suspect that it has to do with the difficulties in doing it properly and the very wide range of types of plant material out there to try and figure out what exactly to apply and when. The way the pros do it is with a liquid mix applied through a high pressure hose attached to a hollow probe pushed into the soil at the drip line. This allows then to deliver right at the level of the feeder roots a mix of fertilizers that the tree or shrub can utilize right away without competing with surrounding turfs or packed soils at the surface. These factors are often what make surface feeding with granules ineffective on all but the smallest plants. There are also slow release stakes out there, but they are designed mostly for potted material and have a hard time being driven deep enough to hit the root zone on maturing trees and shrubs. This leaves drilling and dropping granules, preferred by some orchard managers, but time consuming and targeted for specific plant type needs, or high pressure deep root feeding.
Why do it? The majority of the trees and shrubs and most plants, for that matter, that we choose for our yards are from areas of the world vastly different from ours. Soil types, amounts of rain, strength of UV rays at altitude and even the plants around it all come into play in how ornamentals do for us. It makes sense that a little extra care needs to be taken to help these plants thrive in our little part of the world. With the expense of buying even a small tree compared to the cost of a bag of grass seed, it always seems a little puzzling why we ignore the rest of our landscape while pouring all our time and energy into the grass. Turf remains turf and does not gain value after it has grown in. Trees and shrubs, however, continue to add to their value as they grow and mature year after year. The very most prized neighborhoods are those with mature trees and landscapes and there is a reason for that, only time can duplicate it. That being said, you can speed up time, to a degree, by providing the best conditions for your plants to grow in, which means proper planting, watering and yes, fertilizing and pest controls. What might the difference be in how fast & full something grows? That depends on the plants genetics and the growing conditions of course, but it is not unheard of for small pines to grow only an inch a year in stressed conditions, if it survives at all, where normal growth could be 4-6 inches or more. Do you have an expensive Japanese Maple that is maybe 4 feet tall after a couple of years in the ground? Did you know that there are 20 foot plus tall ones at residences in northern Utah? Time, proper conditions and care created the opportunity for that. Trees that seem to attract bores or disease? Mother Nature's way of pruning the weak and stressed out.
How do they get every tree and shrub exactly what it needs? The simple answer is, they don't. The experienced tree technician knows that you don't treat problems that aren't there and instead opts for a preventative overall health approach. Knowing what local soils are deficient in, they mix a specific rate targeted to woody species in general, including roses. By establishing this baseline of nutrients available for plant uptake, any nutrient problems that show themselves later in the season in a particular plant, can more quickly have their source identified and corrected. Generally, a mix that contains a complete fertilizer (N-P-K) with iron and micronutrients(16 major/minor) are employed at rates far different from turfs with the specialized equipment to punch into the root zone.
A job best left to the pros- Beyond the equipment and soil knowledge necessary to do proper deep root feedings, the pros can become an important resource in developing your mature landscape. From their knowledge of a wide variety of plant materials in all kinds of settings, their equipment to take care of any pests or diseases, to the advice on proper placement, planting and pruning, a good technician is your key to continually moving forward with your landscape. More importantly, they're the ones who come to you, see any problems in it's setting and can only earn your business with results. Keep that in mind when you discuss problems with anyone whose job is to replace plant materials or ask just to bring in a sample for diagnosis. Nothing beats feet on your ground with an experienced eye considering all factors when you need results.