When Do Arborists Recommend Fertilizing Trees?

arborist laying tree fertilizer

Fertilization Tips That Will Have Your Trees Looking Their Best

Trees are an essential part of landscapes, providing shade, beauty, and habitat for wildlife. However, trees require a little help to maintain their health and longevity. Certified arborists in Kansas City recommend getting basic upkeep services like professional evaluations, tree pruning and trimming, and timely fertilization.

Fertilization is especially important because it delivers the minerals and nutrients that trees need to grow and thrive, which is why arborists recommend it as part of a comprehensive tree care plan. In this blog, we will explore what tree fertilizer is, how it supports tree growth, and the best times of year to fertilize trees in the Midwest.

What Is Tree Fertilizer and How Does It Support Growth?

Tree fertilizer is a substance that provides essential nutrients to trees, aiding in their growth and overall health. It contains two types of nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients.

Macronutrients are the primary nutrients that stimulate tree growth, including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), often referred to as NPK. Common micronutrients include magnesium, iron, and manganese, which are also important for healthy tree growth.

Tree fertilizer is available in two distinct varieties. The first is organic tree fertilizer, which is made from naturally occurring substances. Organic fertilizers contain lower NPK levels, but they deliver nutrients to trees for longer periods of time and are better for the soil.

Synthetic or chemical tree fertilizer is the second type. It is made from inorganic materials and is designed to provide trees with high levels of NPK that stimulate robust growth. Chemical tree fertilizers are also less expensive compared to organic fertilizers. However, certified arborists recommend using chemical fertilizers with caution, as incorrect application can scorch your yard or compromise soil composition.

When Arborists In Kansas City Suggest Fertilizing Your Trees

For optimal results, arborists recommend fertilizing at specific times of the year:


Spring is one of the best times to fertilize trees, as this is when they enter their active growth phase. Applying fertilizer in early spring ensures that trees have the necessary nutrients to support new growth, leaf development, and flowering. In the Midwest, this typically means fertilizing in late March to early May.

Late Fall

Fertilizing in late fall, after trees have entered dormancy but before the ground freezes, can also be beneficial. This allows the tree’s roots to absorb nutrients during the winter months, promoting stronger growth in the spring. In Kansas and Missouri, late October to early November is an ideal time for fall fertilization.

Avoid Mid-Summer

It’s generally best to avoid fertilizing trees during the hot, dry months of mid-summer. Trees are often stressed during this period, and adding fertilizer can exacerbate it, potentially causing more harm than good.

If you notice that one of your trees is demonstrating symptoms such as browning leaves, drooping stems, increased insect activity, and peeling bark, this may indicate your tree has heat stress or a form of sickness that’s compromising its health. Contact an arborist near you to get the tree professionally evaluated.

Methods of Fertilizing Trees

Arborists typically use one of the following three methods when fertilizing trees:

  • Liquid soil injection: This method of fertilization injects liquid fertilizer into the soil, resulting in a quick uptake of nutrients for trees.
  • Drilled hole application: Another common technique used by certified arborists is drilling a series of holes in the soil above the tree’s root zone, and then sprinkling fertilizer into the holes.
  • Surface application: Fertilizer can also be applied over the surface of the tree’s root zone without drilling or injections. Either distribute the fertilizer by hand or with a mechanical spreader. Many arborists agree this is the easiest and quickest method of application.

How to Contact a Certified Arborist Near You

Fertilizing trees is an essential aspect of tree care that promotes healthy growth and resilience to stressors. In the Kansas City area, understanding the appropriate types of fertilizers, the best times to apply them, and the most effective methods can make a significant difference in the health and longevity of your trees. By following the recommendations of arborists and adopting a proactive approach to tree fertilization, you will ensure that your trees continue to thrive, even under challenging conditions.

Get started by locating arborists and tree surgeons in your area who have experience working with Midwestern tree species. Searching “arborist near me” will return local tree care companies for you to consider. Remember, it’s always best to work with a company that offers the full continuum of tree care, including inspections, maintenance, and tree removal services, so you have a contact you can trust any time you need help with your trees.