Grow Tips

Root Feeding

All trees have feeder roots, specific roots that the tree sends out in search of food. There is a simple method to locate those feeder roots and root feed trees with fertilizer for optimum tree health and growth. Older, established trees respond very well to root feeding, plus it only has to be done once a year.

How To Locate A Tree's Feeder Roots

Mark a circle around the tree that is 1/3 of the distance between the trunk and the tree's drip line. The drip line of a tree is the where the tips of the branches end.

Example: If the distance from the tree trunk to the drip line is 3 feet, then mark a circle around the tree at 1 foot from the tree trunk. Next, mark a circle around the tree the same distance past the drip line. Still using my example, that would be 1 foot past the tree's drip line.

In between those two circular lines you have marked (1 foot away from the trunk and 1 foot past the drip line) are where the tree's feeder roots are located. This will be the area in which you will root feed your tree.

How To Root Feed Trees With Fertilizer

Now that you know where the feeder roots are, root feeding trees with fertilize is simple. Determine the amount of fertilizer each tree needs by measuring the diameter (straight line through the center) of the tree trunk at it's thickest point. If the diameter is less than 6 inches, you will need 1 pound of fertilizer per inch. If the diameter of the tree trunk is more than 6 inches, use 2 pounds of fertilizer per inch.

Weigh out your fertilizer for each tree and mix with equal parts of sand. The sand will keep the fertilizer from burning any tree roots when you root feed.

Next, you will need to make root feeding holes in the soil within the circles you have marked off under the tree. The holes need to be between 1 1/2 to 2 feet deep and about 2 feet apart. You will need to make approximately 10 holes for every inch of tree diameter. If the tree has a 3 inch diameter, you will need to make 30 root feeding holes, and so forth.

You can use a small auger to make the holes, or drive a metal pipe or crowbar into the soil to make the root feeding holes.