How to Reverse Over-fertilization: Is It Possible?

Fertilizers provide trees with the essential nutrients they need to maintain their health and vigor. However, over-fertilization can stunt your trees’ growth and make them more vulnerable to pests and diseases. In extreme cases, it can lead to their death.

Fortunately, learning how to reverse over-fertilization can help you avoid this.

In this article, we will share how to keep your tree safe from the effects of excess fertilization, highlighting how consulting Memphis’ tree fertilization service can help.

How to Detect Over-fertilization

The first step to learning how to reverse over-fertilization is knowing how to detect it.

When determining the presence of over-fertilization, look out for signs such as:

  • Visible fertilizer crust – Applying more fertilizer than your tree needs will lead to the formation of a white crust on the soil’s surface.
  • Browned or blackened roots – Over-fertilization often causes the roots to turn brown or black.
  • Yellow or brown leaf tips – Excess nutrients could prevent your tree from getting the water it needs to survive. As a result, its lower leaves could turn brown or yellow and whither.
  • Slow growth – Is the tree growing very slowly? You might be applying more fertilizer than the tree needs.

How to Reverse Over-fertilization

It is possible to reverse over-fertilization. However, quick action is crucial to your trees’ full recovery. Here are the steps to take when learning how to reverse over-fertilization.

Remove the Fertilizer

Start by clearing away any visible fertilizer by scooping it up with a small shovel. While it is vital to be as thorough as possible, try to do so without damaging your tree.

Remove the Dead Leaves

Though your tree can recover from over-fertilization, there is no way to restore dead or dying leaves.

To prevent your tree from wasting energy and resources trying to restore dead leaves, use pruning shears to trim them.

Remove the Soil’s Top Layer

Clear away the over-fertilized topsoil and replace it with a layer of fresh soil free of any fertilizer. Doing so will prevent your tree from absorbing more nutrients. It will also create a healthy environment that will aid the tree’s recovery.

Drain the Excess Nutrients

Consider planting cover crops with deep roots to drain the soil of excess nutrients. Such crops can also lower the nitrogen volatilization rate, prevent fertilizer burn, and enhance your soil’s condition.

Water Heavily

Watering the areas that you’ve over-fertilized can also help you drain away the excess fertilizer.

Avoid Fertilizer

Avoid using any form of fertilizer until your tree has recovered fully. Until then, continue to monitor and water the tree regularly.

Professional Tree Fertilization Service in Memphis, TN

Fertilizing your tree isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. Fortunately, at Spruce Up Tree Care, we have a team of certified arborists ready to help. From helping you understand why trees need fertilizer to teaching you how to reverse over-fertilization, we can provide the services and guidance you need to ensure your trees thrive.

Contact Spruce Up Tree Care at (901) 833-8242 for quality fertilization service in Memphis, TN.


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