Japanese maple tree - Knowledgebase Question

Carmel, Ne
Question by malvasan
August 31, 2010
When I first moved in to my new home (Carmel, NY)12 years ago, I had a beautiful japanese maple tree in front of my property. It was my pride and joy. This year, it looks like it is dying. The tree does not have many leaves, the color of the leaves are off. How can I reverse what is going on with my tree..


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Answer from NGA
August 31, 2010

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I'm not sure what's causing the decline of your maple tree. Drought stress, salt from road treatments, a need for fertilizer or poor soil drainage can all damage roots and show up in the canopy. Early leaf coloration, sparse leaf out and even dying branches are all symptoms of root stress. You might be able to help your tree recover by following these guidelines from Cornell University:

"Treatment for declining urban maples includes watering, fertilizing, pruning dead branches, and reducing salt-laden spring water runoff over the roots. Thoroughly water trees every week or two during extended dry weather. Trees should be watered with a slow stream from a hose. Move the hose periodically to soak the entire soil area under the tree's branches to a depth of six or more inches. Fertilize trees with a complete fertilizer in the spring and/or late fall. The general recommendation is 2 to 4 lbs fertilizer per inch of tree diameter (0.35 to 0.7 kg per cm of tree diameter at 1.5 m above ground). Broadcast the fertilizer over the surface of the ground. Some risk of burn on nearby turf may occur at the higher rates. Prune dead branches as well to possibly stimulate renewed, vigorous shoot growth. Pruning is best done in the early spring, prior to budbreak, to promote healing of the pruning cuts. Road salt impact can be reduced by placing a barrier (curb, burm, ditch, etc.) which will catch and/or divert the spring runoff water which often contains copious amounts of salt. If soil and foliar analyses have been run and high sodium or chloride concentrations were found, then leaching the soil with fresh water or applying gypsum to improve the soil structure or texture may be useful.

By the time symptoms are noticed, the tree may be beyond being restored to its original splendor. However, at this time another tree may be planted which will eventually replace the declining maple. In this way the newly planted tree will have a few years to grow prior to the removal of the declining maple. Plant young maple trees away from roads to avoid de-icing salt problems.

The success of treatment to declining maples depends primarily on early detection of maple decline, the health of the tree prior to treatment, and/or its ability to respond to treatment."

Hope this information is helpful.

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