This has been a rough winter, not only for us but for our landscape plants as well. Cold weather lingered almost into May. Late spring means that plants are late leafing out, and our lawns are just greening up. This means they have not really started making food. They are still living on the food they had stored from last season.
When plants begin making food, they need certain minerals from the soil. Will they be available in your soil? While these minerals occur naturally in good, rich topsoil, the fact is that many builders scrape away topsoil when building homes. They may, or may not, bring it back. Or, they may bring in topsoil from another location.
The best way to know whether your soil has the minerals that your trees, shrubs, lawn and other plants need is to have a soil test taken – not just a pH test, but a mineral content test as well. This test will tell you whether you need to fertilize or not. Our plant health professionals can conduct such tests.
Following the standards under which professionals like us work, fertilizer should only be applied to meet a stated objective. This means that, if you had a soil test and it showed that your soil had all the necessary minerals for your lawn and landscape, you probably don’t need to fertilize this spring. If it showed a mineral deficiency, you should fertilize. Minerals are finite. If they are deficient when a soil test is taken, they will always be deficient, and the only way to replenish them is through fertilization. It can be compared to humans taking a vitamin supplement to replenish minerals deficient in our diet.
The soil test will tell you what trace, or micro, nutrients are needed, as well as whether you need the macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. That way, you can avoid the waste and environmental compromise of buying one size fits all fertilizer. When a soil test indicates special needs, we are able to formulate fertilizer just for your application, and we apply it to trees and shrubs in liquid form injected right into the root zone.
Often we also add beneficial fungi and bacteria, called mycorrhizae, to help roots find and absorb the minerals they need for good health.
So in answer to why you need spring fertilization, it is to replenish any missing nutrients in your soil and jump start your plants’ food making process, photosynthesis.