What to feed a young urban tree

Asked February 18, 2018, 12:29 PM EST


I live in Brooklyn and recently requested a tree to be planted in a vacant sidewalk bed in front of our building. They planted the tree almost two years ago and it seems to be doing well, and I'd like to get some tree food for it (and the other trees on our street) to help them along. It's some kind of ash with 11 leaflets.

What kind of food should I get, where and when/how much should I feed it?

I have no idea what the other trees are, but they're small, pretty old, sparsely-leafed, and sort of gnarly.

Thank you,


Kings County New York tree fertilization fraxinus ash tree

2 Responses

Well done adding to the trees of Brooklyn! Ash trees are well suited to an urban environment. You probably have a Fraxinus excelsior (European ash) which has the 11 leaflets you describe and is somewhat less susceptible to Asian longhorn beetle than other ashes.

If the tree appears healthy, it probably does not need feeding. Instead, improve its soil annually by adding an inch or two of compost to its space Do not raise the soil level immediately around the base of the tree—you should still be able to see the root flare of the tree. Urban soil is often compacted from foot traffic. Compacted soil suffers from poor drainage and makes it difficult for oxygen and nutrients to get to the roots of the plant. By adding compost you are adding nutrition as well as improving soil structure.

City trees are in a frequent state of drought and young trees in particular may need supplemental water during hot weather.Trees need 8 to 10 gallons of water a week to stay healthy, with young trees benefit from 10 to 20 gallons while they are getting established. You can help keep street trees alive during dry periods by watering generously once a week.

Applying mulch (away from the trunk) after the ground warms up can help hold in moisture. Replace that mulch in the fall and apply fresh mulch to protect the tree's roots from winter salt splashing up from the streets and sidewalks. Mulch also protects trees from passing pets.

Finally, keep the tree well free of debris that may introduce toxic elements to the soil or impede water and nutrition. All these modes of care can be offered to the nearby trees as well.

Thank you kindly. I’ll take that info to heart.