The Q&A Archives: Maple Tree

Question: I have just planted a small maple tree, (about 5'). I am very anxious for this tree to grow to provide much needed shade in my back yard. What is a realistic expectation as to how long it will take for this tree to grow to a reasonable height? Is there anything that I can do to stimulate fast growth?

Answer: The speed of growth will depend on the specific kind of maple you planted, the growing conditions where it is planted, and on the weather from year to year. The best thing you can do for your new tree is to water it correctly.

Your goal in watering is to keep the soil evenly moist like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet and not dried out. To know if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger. If it is still damp, do not water yet. When you do water, apply it to the soil surface (not the foliage) and water thoroughly and slowly so it soaks down to the deeper roots. After watering, wait a few hours and then dig down to see how far the water soaked in; it can be surprising.

There is no set schedule for watering, it depends on your soil type and on the weather. Using an organic mulch several inches thick over the root area will help reduce watering needs as well as feed the soil gradually as it breaks down over time.

You could also top dress with good quality compost each spring and summer and then fertilize in spring with a general purpose or slow release granular fertilizer such as 10-10-10. Read and follow the label directions for how much to use. Do not overfertilize, too much can "burn" and damage the tree's roots. Also, do not fertilize it now -- wait until next spring.

Good luck with your new tree!

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