The Q&A Archives: Tree Fertilizer

Question: I have two oaks in front of my house. There are three or four years old and about 10 feet height. But compared to my neighbors they are skinny. What kind of fertilizer can help?

Answer: Oak trees in your area will benefit from a fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio, such as 15-5-10 or 16-4-9. Spread one cup of fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter waist high in a large area around the tree, reaching out beyond the branch spread. Make the first application in February and repeat it in April, June and October.

You can also place the fertilizer in holes punched about 6" deep in the soil every 2 to 3 feet around the perimeter of the trees branch spread if you wish. This helps aerate the soil and gets the fertilizer elements down into the root zone better, but is quite tedious.

Water the tree deeply but infrequently, applying 1" of water to the area from the trunk out to twice the branch spread once every week or two during the hot, dry weather of summer. A coffee can makes a good sprinkler gauge to let you know how long it takes for your sprinklers to apply an inch of water. Remember that water is at least as important as fertilizer in making a tree grow fast.

Thanks for the question!

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