The Q&A Archives: Am I able to salvage the tree?

Question: I have a Japanese red maple that is two years young. Last year we had no problems. However, this year the top half of the tree has no leaves and no signs of developing any. The bottom portion has foliage. We tested a small branch from the top and it was dry and brittle. Clearly, the bottom portion of the tree is still viable but is the top dead? How would I prune it if I should get rid of the entire top of the tree? If I have to prune half the tree, how will that affect its growth?

Answer: Barbara,

I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. The spring rush has brought a deluge of questions and we are working hard to catch up!

Prune out the dead back to where it joins living wood. Look for signs of borers such as holes or sawdust near the intersection between living and dead. Hopefully there was just a problem that set the tree back (dry or soggy conditions or physical damage) and with proper care it will be fine and begin to regrow now. If you find borers see your local Home Depot garden center for a spray for borer control. I suspect that this is not the cause but I mention it just to be sure.

Thanks for the question. Best wishes for a wonderful gardening season. Please stop in again soon!

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