The Q&A Archives: Newly planted maple tree not doing well

Question: In May of this year, we planted 3 maple trees, and they're struggling. The trees were somewhat dried out when they arrived, so we got them in the ground as quickly as we could...that day. We gave them some root accelerator within that first week or two, and I try to water the right amount, but they still appear to be struggling. What can I do? How do I know how much water is enough? Is there anything else I can do besides simply watering?

Answer: Aside from exercising a little more patience and watering regularly, there's not much you can do to help your maples adjust to their new homes. Watering frequency and amounts really depend upon your soil type and the weather. The best way to check the soil moisture is to water your maples as you normally would and then wait 3-4 days, dig a hole and look to see just how much moisture is being retained, and just how deeply it is going. If the soil is moist 3" beneath the surface, you won't need to water for a few more days; if the soil is dry, it's time to water; if the soil is soggy wet, the site doesn't drain well enough to suit your maples.

I think the easiest way to water is to build a basin beneath each tree by mounding up some soil. Fill the basin, allow it to drain, then fill it a second time. This method of watering concentrates the moisture over the root mass and allows it to trickle down, wetting the entire root mass. Your trees should be watered once each week (twice if the weather is really hot) throughout the growing season.

Best wishes with your maples!

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