Imagine how stark life would be without the sheltering beauty of trees. From the majestic architecture of large shade trees to the soft colors of spring blossoming ornamentals, trees are major contributors to our landscapes, and our lives.
Trees soften the landscape visually and add a feeling of serenity. During the growing season, a tree's leaves act to muffle sound and provide shade. Trees filter the air we breathe by taking in carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and return life-supporting oxygen to us. Planted in the proper place, trees can screen undesirable views and protect us from winter winds. The bond between people and trees is elemental and symbiotic—it's no wonder that people have an emotional investment in them.
Forest-grown trees benefit from the annual fall of leaves, which slowly decay forming the loose nutrient rich soils needed to support them. Colonies of mychorrizal fungi flourish in this environment and bond with root hairs to increase their ability to absorb water and nutrients. Trees growing in urban settings are often challenged to grow in compacted soils with low organic content, and in competition with aggressive turf root systems for any fertilizer that is applied during the growing season.
No Mulch Volcanoes!
Proper care of trees will help to lengthen their time in our landscapes. The care of trees should begin below ground by encouraging and maintaining a healthy root system. Soil samples should be taken on any unfamiliar property, and sent to a lab specializing in agricultural soil testing.
With the soil test results as guide, it's time to make fertilizer choices. Granular fertilizers can be used, but fertilization is best accomplished by hydraulic deep root feeding. Hydraulic deep root feeding is the injection of fertilizers and soil conditioners into the first four to 10 inches of soil, where the majority of feeder roots exist. The fertilizer is injected under 150 to 200 pounds of pressure per square-inch, and has the added benefit of aerating the soil. Fertilizers are available in slow-release formulations of different percentages allowing for a two-year feeding cycle. Done correctly, a portion of the trees on the property can be fed each year, avoiding a large single billing.