Tree Fertilization: Costs, Methods, and the Benefits of Professional Services

You want the trees on your property to thrive, which is why you suspect they should be fertilized. Tree fertilization provides your trees with nutrients that they aren’t getting from your suburban soil, which would be readily available in a natural forest setting.

However, while you know your trees could use fertilization to improve their vigor and their overall health, you’re uncertain as to what methods are best.

Some people consider DIY tree fertilization to try to save some money. However, the question of a DIY method’s effectiveness is often called into question.

On the other hand, if you choose a tree fertilizing company, you also want to know what you’ve picked the right professional for the job. The crucial decisions you make for your trees have a huge impact on their overall health.

Tree Fertilization Cost

The biggest reason why homeowners might try to tackle tree fertilization on their own is the cost. The truth is that the tree fertilizer spikes you can pick up at a big box store are very inexpensive. Tree spikes are sold in multi-packs and typically average around $1 to $2 per spike. Different brands have different recommendations in terms of how many spikes to use. One brand recommends one spike for every inch of tree trunk diameter.

In comparison, a professional tree fertilizing company is going to cost more for a tree fertilization service on one’s property. The average range for this service at Joshua Tree is between $100 to $350, though it could be more.

arborist performing deep root fertilization on a large tree

The larger the trees, the more product used, and the greater the cost. It depends on how long ago your site was developed and how mature your trees and shrubs are.

It’s obviously a big difference, so the important question to ask yourself is: What am I getting for my investment? Exploring the differences between DIY tree fertilization or a professional service is the best way to determine your course of action.

DIY vs. Professional Tree Fertilization Service

As you look to determine what you are getting for your investment, it’s important to recognize that you are not comparing apples to apples. The DIY tree spikes that you can pick up at a box store contain quick release fertilizer that is used up very quickly. But the biggest problem with them is the amount of product that they contain and deliver to the tree itself. It’s extremely minimal when compared to what a professional is using.

plant health care technician performing deep root fertilization on a large tree

For example, at Joshua Tree, we use five gallons of liquid tree fertilizer per inch of tree diameter. That means that for a 20-inch tree, we’re going to put around 100 gallons of product down for your tree to absorb. We find that homeowners don’t realize just how much product we’re using. It’s not uncommon for us to release 300 gallons of liquid fertilizer on some of our larger properties.

We’re also putting down a professional grade, slow release product which allows for a consistent push of root growth. Unlike tree spikes, it doesn’t just get used up immediately. Instead, it’s going to slowly release over the next year, so your trees benefit that entire time.

The other big difference is the method of application. While those DIY tree spikes only go a short way into the soil, a professional tree fertilization service is going to include a deep root injection that delivers high-quality liquid suspended fertilizer down to the root zone, where it’s really needed. That fertilizer is then distributed throughout the tree in a process called translocation.

Using a Professional Tree Fertilizing Company

Let’s be brutally honest. Those tree spikes aren’t doing much, if anything, for your trees. The main points that we’ve discussed: their shallow application, the quality of the product, and their quick release nature, all add up to a product that is doing very little for the overall health of your tree.

Because of that, you realize that you probably need to hire a tree fertilizing company if you want to give your trees the best. The best advice for seeking a tree fertilizing company is to find a company that really understands trees. There are a lot of lawn care and even tree companies that offer tree fertilization services without really understanding when they’re needed.

A professional company that really understands trees is going to perform a consultation, examining all of your trees. They are not going to pose tree fertilization as a “cure-all” solution. We’ve found that a lot of homeowners and even a lot of lawn care or tree companies believe that tree fertilization can fix everything but the truth is, if you have a tree that is diseased or has an insect population, fertilizer can make those issues worse.

technician inspecting the trunk of an ornamental tree

A professional that knows trees will look at factors like the annual rate of growth, the soil and its structure, and the root space that’s available. They will also examine leaf color and size to determine the growth rate before making a determination about adding a tree fertilization service. All trees have a general growth rate. Usually, when a tree has undersized leaves and twig growth, it means the root system is not functioning correctly. Boosting the root system with tree fertilizer will encourage uptake in correcting this issue.

If the company you’re considering for your tree fertilization service isn’t looking at those factors, chances are, they don’t know a lot about trees. There is a big difference in a Certified Arborist's approach to fertilizing trees vs. a novice technician’s approach. The former is a true tree expert. The latter has just been taught what to do but because they don’t actually understand trees they can’t diagnose problems or change their approach based on what they see. They’re just trained on how to apply the product. They don’t have the extensive knowledge on trees that a Certified Arborist has.

Choosing Wisely for the Health of Your Trees

Ultimately, it is the decisions that you make about not only the company you plan to hire but also what services you follow through with, that will have a great impact on the success of your trees. Not all fertilization products are created equal, nor is the application of product done the same way. Therefore, you must choose wisely.

arborist inspecting tree leaves

You care about the health of your trees, which is why you’re exploring the possibilities. We know it’s not always easy to determine what your trees need to thrive, which is why we’re here to help.

If we can answer questions about the health of your trees, the cost associated with fertilizing them, or whether Joshua Tree might be the right company for you, then we’re here to assist. There is a big difference between the type of company that is just out to fertilize as many trees as they can and the type of company that truly knows trees and what they need. At the end of the day, we believe that you must be focused on fertilizing trees properly in order to be effective. You either do it right, or it’s not worth doing it at all.

If you’d like to find out more about tree fertilization services for your home, contact us for a free consultation or give us a call at 833-583-8733 so we can answer any of your questions.

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