How to Improve Your Tree’s Soil
A vital factor that affects the health of your trees is the
soil, and yet it is often overlooked. In fact, improving your tree’s soil is
likely the best thing you can do to help your tree thrive. Soil is far more
than just dirt. It is an ecosystem where thousands of various organisms
coexist, both competing and helping each other survive. Plants, bacteria, fungi,
animals – all have created long-lasting symbiotic relationships with other
species in their evolutionary history, relying on the benefits of these
relationships during the hardship times. Soil might also contain many mineral
elements, with their composition greatly varying depending on the region.
The tree in your front yard didn’t evolve to grow in your
grassy yard, on the boulevard, or next to your driveway. Your tree evolved in a
forest with all of the organisms in the forest’s ecosystem. The soil in this native
habitat has the right mineral composition along with the right mixture of
living things for the tree to prosper.
A tree planted in an urban environment is almost always
inadequate for the best growth. It lacks some minerals, nitrogen-fixing
bacteria, and beneficial mycorrhizal fungi. On top of that, most urban soils
are severely compacted and polluted.
There are steps you can take to make sure your trees have
the soil they need. Fertilization is the first step and the second is to add mycorrhizal
fungi. Mycorrhizae forms when mycorrhizal fungi infects newly formed non-woody
roots. There is a symbiotic relationship between the trees and beneficial fungi.
In exchange for sugars and simple carbohydrates, the mycorrhizal fungi absorb
minerals and moisture needed for the growth of the tree.
In nature, mycorrhizal fungi is found in 99 percent of plant
and tree species, but in urban settings, the soils often lack this essential
fungi. Most trees in urban settings will find the addition of mycorrhizal fungi
to the soil beneficial. Giving your tree the soil it needs is important.