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Why Fertilize Trees in the Fall?

Why Fertilize Trees in the Fall?

Fertilizing trees in the fall is a practice often recommended by arborists and horticulturists, particularly in regions with distinct seasonal changes like Colorado. This timing might seem counterintuitive since trees are preparing to enter dormancy for the winter. However, there are several compelling reasons why fall fertilization is beneficial for tree health and vitality. This guide from Evolve Tree Experts explores the advantages of fall tree fertilization.

Benefits of Fall Fertilization

  • Root Growth Support: While above-ground growth slows down in the fall, tree roots continue to grow and develop until the ground freezes. Fertilizing in the fall supports this root growth, providing the essential nutrients that roots need to expand and strengthen. This root development is crucial for improving a tree’s stability and uptake of water and nutrients.

  • Recovery from Summer Stress: After a long, hot summer, trees can be stressed from drought, heat, and pest activities. Fall fertilization helps trees recover by replenishing nutrients that may have been depleted during these stressful months.

  • Preparation for Spring: By fertilizing in the fall, you're essentially giving trees a head start for the next growing season. The nutrients provided in the fall are stored in the roots and become immediately available when trees break dormancy in the spring. This can lead to more vigorous spring growth.

  • Improved Disease Resistance: Healthy, well-nourished trees are more resistant to diseases and pests. Fall fertilization boosts a tree’s overall health, enhancing its ability to fend off infections and infestations the following year.

Best Practices for Fall Fertilization

  • Timing: The ideal time for fall fertilization is after leaf drop but before the ground freezes. This timing varies by region, but in Colorado, it typically falls between late September and early November.

  • Type of Fertilizer: Use a slow-release fertilizer with a balanced blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Slow-release formulas ensure that nutrients are available over an extended period, supporting root growth throughout the fall and early winter.

  • Application Method: Apply fertilizer evenly around the drip line of the tree—the area directly under the outer circumference of the tree canopy. This is where the most active roots are located. Avoid applying fertilizer too close to the trunk, as this can lead to root burn.

  • Soil Testing: Consider performing a soil test before applying fertilizer. A soil test can reveal nutrient deficiencies and pH imbalances, allowing you to customize your fertilization plan to address specific soil and tree needs.


Fall fertilization is an effective way to ensure that your trees are healthy, stable, and well-prepared for both the winter and the following growing season. By providing essential nutrients when trees need them the most, fall fertilization can enhance root development, recovery, and overall tree health. For personalized advice and professional tree care services, contact Evolve Tree Experts. Our team of certified arborists can help you determine the best fertilization strategy for your trees, tailored to the unique conditions of your landscape and the specific needs of your trees. Read our 5-star Reviews on Google.

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