Fruit trees make a beautiful addition to any property, but they require some care to ensure they stay healthy, produce well and continue to look attractive. Each year, you should feed your fruit trees to ensure they have the nutrients they need to flower and provide a healthy crop for you to enjoy. You should also lay mulch around the base of your trees to prevent weed growth and to retain enough moisture during the summer months to prevent damage to the roots of your trees.
Feeding Fruit Trees
Fruit trees should be fed with fertiliser between the end of winter and the start of spring, as they will require nutrients before they begin to bud and flower. The main nutrients required by fruit trees are nitrogen for overall growth, potassium for healthy fruit development and phosphorous for healthy, strong roots. Choose a fertiliser that's specifically for fruit trees to ensure they receive enough of these nutrients, and prepare the soil around your fruit trees by ensuring it's moist, which will help the fertiliser to be absorbed, and that it's free from grass and weeds. You ideally want a ring of soil around each tree that's as wide as the tree's rooting area so that when you sprinkle the fertiliser over the rooting area, the roots can easily access the fertiliser as it penetrates the soil.
Mulching Fruit Trees
For some types of plants, an organic mulch can be used in place of fertiliser with satisfactory results, as organic mulches do contain some nutrients. However, mulch does not contain enough nutrients to enable fruit trees to thrive, so it must be used alongside a good fertiliser. Apply mulch in late spring and late autumn to protect the roots of your trees from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Mulching will also prevent young tree roots having to compete with the roots of weeds. The mulch should be a few inches deep and cover the same area as the fertiliser, but you should ensure the mulch does not come into contact with the tree trunk, as the bark can be damaged and begin to decay when the mulch begins to break down. Suitable mulches for fruit trees include composted manure, straw and woodchips.
Your local garden centre can help you pick out a suitable fertiliser and organic mulch for your fruit trees, or you can use a landscape company a couple of times a year to manage your tree care for you.