I would like to know if I can fertilize my beech hedge early November 2020
and how many times a year?
7 feet tall beeches
Were planted in August 2019 by nursery
Did not fertilize as of today.
Thank you very much for your cooperation
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is one of the most popular plants for hedging due to its beautiful leaves and their ability to hang onto the leaves right through winter.
This tree tolerates a wide range of soil conditions and prefers to be positioned in full sun or partial shade. Beech trees usually put on two flushes of growth per year; the first flush in the spring and a second smaller flush in late summer. Ideally, the hedge should be cut back after each flush. It prefers rich, moist well-drained soil.
Toronto Master Gardeners are big fans of the use of organic materials to amend your soil. Organic materials have more benefits that just providing the 3 main nutrients as listed on most chemical fertilizers. Organic material releases its nutrients slowly. In this way, harmful over-fertilization is prevented. It also improves the texture and quality of your soil. The application is also simple: only scatter 2-3″ of compost and rake it a little.
Below is article done in partnership with the City of Toronto on the benefits of using organic amendments.
Before using a commercial fertilizer, it is recommended to have a soil sample taken and analyzed. So you can optimally adjust the nutrient supply to your soil conditions and the needs of the beech hedge.
- Simple soil testing kits to test the soil for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium can be purchased at any garden centre.
- The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has a list of accredited soil testing sources www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/resource/soillabs.htm
- The University of Guelph Laboratory Services will also preform soil analysis. This link gives step by step instructions on how to submit samples.
- In addition the City of Toronto Public Health Department has published an excellent Guide for Soil Testing in Urban Gardens. https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Guide-for-Soil-Testing-in-Urban-Gardens.pdf
In general, it is recommended that you fertilize your beech hedge with a general fertilizer (10-10-10) only during its growth phase, which starts in spring, depending on the weather usually in March. According to Clemson “ Trees and shrubs should be fertilized in early spring, and a light fertilizer application can be made in early summer if conditions are conducive to plant growth (that is, reasonable temperatures and soil moisture). Avoid fertilizing trees and shrubs stressed by drought during the summer months. If water is unavailable, do not fertilize at all because plants will be unable to absorb the nutrients.” Make sure to read and follow directions on the label for proper dilution factor.
By August the trees are starting to shut down and prepare for winter, as a result avoid applying any fertilizer after August. The late application of fertilizer would cause the beech hedge to send out new growth. This young growth would not be hardy enough by the time winter arrives causing damage to the hedge. Fertilizing Trees and Shrubs is an excellent article which describes the proper way to apply fertilizer and the different kinds of fertilizer available.