Common Questions about Shrub Fertilization

common questions about shrub fertilization

Trees and shrubs are living investments. One shrub can cost upwards of $100. Entire landscaping can be worth thousands of dollars.

It’s interesting to think about how many people invest in protecting their lawn while neglecting their shrubs which are often much more expensive. Just like your lawn, your shrubs need fertilizer too to stay healthy.

Why should I fertilize Shrubs?

The main reason to fertilize your trees and shrubs is to build health, stress resistance, better color, and bring better growth. Just like with your lawn, the boost in nutrients can greatly improve the quality of your shrubbery. 

Shrubs, like other plants, produce their own food in the form of sugars produced through photosynthesis.

But, many times, plant material is under the canopy of the home and is so heavily shaded it cannot get the photosynthesis needed for growth and health.

So instead, fertilizer provides an alternative of ready to use nutrients for the shrub to pick up. The minerals or nutrients supplied by fertilizer provide the ingredients needed for photosynthesis and growth.

How can I tell if my shrubs need fertilizer?

To be very honest, Fertilizer is always the cure for a dying shrub. Especially if the decline is from when unadapted or unhealthy plants are chosen, or they are carelessly planted or improperly watered.

But, as we mentioned earlier, landscaping is quite expensive. If your shrub is showing poor health, it is better to try fertilizer treatments first to help it recover before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars replacing the landscaping. 

To find signs of poor health, look at shrubs for signs of poor growth. This can be poorly colored leaves ranging from a pale green to yellow; smaller than average leaf size; leaves discoloration or dropping earlier than normal; little annual twig growth; or twig or branch dieback. 

A big factor to consider is the age of the tree? Young, newly planted trees in the early years of establishment should always receive treatments to keep them healthy and to help the young shrubs grow and fill their allotted space.

Another factor to consider is where the shrub is located. Shrubs that are placed within a flower bed will need to be fertilized regularly, especially if they are sandy or rocky soil with little organic matter. But, if the shrub is directly in the lawn and not a mulched are or a bed, there is no need to fertilize the shrubs separately.

The roots of the shrub will absorb the fertilizer for the lawn. Any additional fertilizer will risk burning the surrounding grass. 

If your shrubs do not show any response or recovery after a year of a full shrub treatment program, you may need to consider replacing them.

How often do shrubs need to be fertilized?

 As a general rule, we recommend fertilizing shrubs only twice a year.

Although, the biggest factor is the rate of application, or how much fertilizer is put down in a specific time interval. We recommend opening the growing season with a fertilizer treatment and closing it likewise.

The early fertilizer will give your shrub the best chance to thrive and grow during peak season. The late fertilizer will help your shrub fight against all the curveballs that attack your shrub in the winter, like freeze snaps.

Why not every couple of weeks like the lawn?

Unlike your lawn, shrubs and other plants only take up nutrients at a high rate at certain times of the year. It really would be more of a waste to fertilize more often than necessary because the nutrients will sit in the soil and not be absorbed by the shrub.

Weather is also a big consideration. If you fertilize while it’s too cold, the shrubs will still be in dormancy and not absorbing nutrients. But, on the other hand, fertilizing when the temperatures are high presents a high risk of burning the shrubs.

The best time of year would be early spring and late fall in the cooler temperatures so there is no chance of burning in high temperatures but also the shrub is moving out of dormancy and readily absorbing nutrients.

What type of fertilizer should I use?

Fertilizers for the lawn and shrubs are actually very similar. The most commonly applied nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).

They may also include other plant-essential nutrients used like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur and fillers like silicone to bind the elements together.

It is usually unnecessary to apply magnesium and sulfur in Texas soil conditions. Micronutrients such as zinc or iron are added to many fertilizers.

There are so many options when it comes to deciding the type of fertilizer to use. The absolute best fertilizer to use depends on the type of shrub.

Some shrubs are more acidic and more alkaline and therefore the fertilizer will be different. Look up the name of the plant and its needs and determine the rest from there.

If you have a professional company taking care of your shrubs, they should make this determination for you and fertilize with the right type and the proper time.

Drench or Deep Root?

There are two main ways to deliver the fertilizer to your shrubs. The first process is called drench fertilization. This is most similar to liquid lawn fertilization because it saturates the surrounding ground of the shrub in fertilizer.

This process is best for any shrubs within a flower bed so the mulch can help retain the fertilizer. 

The second process is referred to as deep root fertilization. This method does come at a much higher cost because it involves injecting the fertilizer directly into the soil at certain zones.

This may be a better option for shrubs that are directly in the grass because it greatly minimizes the risk of over-fertilizing and burning the surrounding turf.

Our Tree and Shrub Program

Your landscaping is a living investment that adds to your home value. It’s not as easy to replace well-established shrubs as it is to replace sod on your turf. It would make sense to protect and safeguard that investment. Fertilizing shrubs can be a little complicated.

Gecko Green offers an amazing Tree and Shrub program with licensed technicians to do just this. They take the guesswork out of caring for your shrubs and ensure your shrubs have all the resources they need to thrive and grow. Call us today for a free quote on protecting your landscaping.

Call for a free shrub care quote today!