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Improving Tree Health in an Urban Landscape

Improving Tree Health in an Urban Landscape

Most trees in the urban landscape are missing out on all the good stuff that the trees in the forest take for granted. Trees in the forest, for the most part, are protected by their friends when wind storms come through, have great soil that provides them with all kinds of available nutrients as well being left alone and undisturbed for years upon years. Unfortunately, that tree that you just love in your front yard that's surrounded by your driveway with its roots covered in thick water-sucking sod isn't as happy. Let's talk about a couple ways to help make that soil a bit healthier for your tree!

What a Tree Needs

16 essential elements

Did you know that in order for your tree to grow, it needs 16 essential elements for growth? They are divided into macronutrients (hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sulfur) and micronutrients (molybdenum, copper, zinc, manganese, iron, boron, and chlorine).

Many of these are available in forest soil because of organic matter, such as leaves, bark and wood, that are decaying and breaking down around the trees roots. Other nutrients, like oxygen are readily available in the atmosphere for the tree to use. A common misconception is that just the tree parts above ground need oxygen, and while they do, it should also be known that tree roots also need their share of oxygen as well. Trees that are located in high traffic areas such as city parks or trees that are covered by road ways usually suffer from oxygen deficiency which will slowly weaken the tree and open it up to invasion of pests or disease.

Room to breathe

A great way to relieve soil compaction issues is with use of an Air Spade, which is an air powered wand that fractures the soil and breaks up all the compacted areas. Once the soil has been fractured, it is best to attempt to create a soil profile that will benefit the tree. By blending composted manure, some mulch and Bio Char into the soil, this helps create a profile that will support micro-organisms that help break down organic material and provide the tree with an ongoing source of nutrients. Bio Char is really cool because it actually creates pore space in the soil, which makes areas for those soil decompacting workhorses to live!

Fertilizers and pH

Another way to provide trees with some of the main essential nutrients, which are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K), is with the help of balanced fertilizers and a deep root feeding system. It is a best practice to be sure to do a soil test before creating any sort of fertilizer program for a tree. Once your soil test is complete and you have the results, you can easily see what nutrients are lacking in the soil around the tree as well as what the soil pH is. Soil pH is important because some elements, such as phosphorus and most micronutrients, are significantly influenced by soil pH.

Feeding your tree

Once you have an idea of what the tree and soil are lacking, a great tool for applying the needed fertilizer is the Nu Arbor 1 Two Soil Injector. This back pack injector is super convenient for those large properties with many trees that need a bit of nutrient help. The injector has a valve on top that is compressed to inject the soil with fertilizer. Ever compression of the valve injects the soil with 1/4 ounce of fertilizer. Using this injector with the Nu Arbor fertilizers is an even easier process! The fertilizer is doesn't need to be diluted so you can just pour it into the tank and begin injecting your trees. For every inch of circumference at breast height, the soil should be injected with 1 ounce of fertilizer by compressing the valve on top of the injector 4 times. The process really couldn't be any easier, and it allows those great nutrients to get down below the sod and grass into the root area where they can be absorbed into the roots and throughout the tree!

This is just a short start to the many things that can be a major plight to trees in the urban landscape. Hopefully you picked up a bit of info that can help you when looking at trees in your client's yard. Next month we should be able to continue our discussion on common tree problems as well as how to solve them to make the trees as healthy as possible and make your client's landscape as beautiful as possible, which will help you get a better reputation in your area as well as more money in your pocket for the great work that you are doing!
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