Deep Root Feeding Your Trees and Shrubs in Fall

deep root feeding

We often forget that our landscape plants need to be fed the same as our lawns. In most cases, the plants that we purchase at the local garden center or home improvement center are not native to where we live and where we decide to plant them. To make sure the plants will continue to grow and prosper, they need deep root feeding at least once a year, and fall is a good time to do so.

Why Is Fall a Good Time for Deep Root Feeding?

As long as the ground is not frozen, there is still time to root feed your trees and shrubs with fertilizer injections. Tree and shrub roots will continue to grow into winter. The roots will absorb a good deal of the fertilizer that is applied at that time. What fertilizer is left will be available for the plant the following spring. Deep root feeding is best accomplished by injecting a fertilizer solution into the top 3 to 9 inches of soil around the base of the tree. To make sure you apply an adequate amount of fertilizer to each plant, you should make the injections in a grid pattern.

What’s the Best Way to Deep Root Feed My Trees and Shrubs?

Deep root feeding works best if you start your fertilizer injections about 1 foot out from the base of the tree and make an injection about every two feet and six inches deep in a circular pattern. Move out to about half way from the trunk to the outer edge of the tree and make another circle of injections. Finally, make another circle of injections around the outer perimeter, or drip line, of the tree branches. For smaller shrubs, make one injection for every foot of shrub height or width. These fertilizer injections should be made as close to the base of the shrub in equal spacing around the perimeter.

How Much Fertilizer Do I Need?

The basic formula for the amount of fertilizer you should provide to your plants is about .2 pounds of nitrogen per inch of trunk diameter or one foot of shrub height or width. If you are using a commercial root feeder, follow the manufacturer’s directions. The same is true if you plan to use fertilizer tree food stakes.

Of course, the easiest way is to contact your local Spring-Green office and have us do the job for you. Your trees and shrubs will appreciate it. We also offer specialty injections directly into the trunk, which provide crucial nutrients and work to protect against disease, as well as a cost-effective two-step tree program. Learn more about how we make your landscape as healthy as possible!

Fall Yard Chores: Get a Head Start on the Spring


In my last blog post, I wrote about pulling up annual plants, judging which ones did well, cutting back perennials and mulching instead of raking your leaves. Here are some other chores to finish before winter sets in:

If you have a sprinkler system and haven’t had it blown out yet, time is rapidly running out.

Apply one more fertilization for the fall. For warm season grasses, you want to use a fertilizer that has very little nitrogen in it. For cool-season grasses, you want to apply a fertilizer that contains a high percentage of nitrogen.

If the temperatures are in the mid 50’s or above, plants will still be photosynthesizing, which means you can still control broadleaf weeds. This is the time of year to spray the difficult to control weeds, like wild violets or ground ivy. As these plants move food into their roots, the weed control will also be moved, working to control these weeds so that they will be less of a problem next year.

Fall is a great time to root feed your trees and shrubs. The best way to do this is to use a root feeder. You can purchase a root feeder at many hardware stores or home improvement centers, although most people hire a professional tree care company like Spring-Green to do the work for them.

Fall is also a great time to clean up your lawn mower. Many hardware stores provide this service, or you can do it yourself. If your mower has a 4-cycle engine, drain and replace the oil. Clean out the underside of the deck and scrape out the built up grass. Remove and sharpen the mower blade. Add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank so that it is ready to go next spring.

Finally, be sure to unscrew your garden hose from the spigot. I live in an area where temperatures often dip well below freezing, so I have to make sure I turn off the water inside so that the pipes do not freeze.

Fall always is a sad time in regards to gardening, at least for those of us that live in the northern climates. Spring will return before we know it and the whole process starts again. I can’t wait for the first of the seed catalogs and gardening fliers to start arriving in January.

If you’ve got better things to do, don’t worry—it’s not too late to start lawn care service. Get more info on our competitive rates, quality guarantee, and variety of services today.