Maple tree - Knowledgebase Question

Warwick, Rh
Question by bjohnson25
February 13, 2010
When I moved into my home 5 yrs ago the leaves on the Maple tree in my yard had beautiful bright leaves for two years. Then I removed the Hosta plants from around it and had dirt (clay like) added around the tree and then surrounded it with rocks. Since then the tree has not been vibrant and the leaves are withered looking and fall off before turning. Can I bring the Maple back to the way it was?

Answer from NGA
February 13, 2010


I don't know whether adding soil and rocks around the base of the tree has anything to do with the symptoms, or if your tree is showing signs of environmental stress. It's generally thought that adding soil over the ground beneath an established tree changes the way the roots receive water and might even suffocate the roots by excluding air and holding too much moisture. In the case of your tree, having hostas growing beneath the tree may have provided the tree with additional moisture because you probably watered the hostas during the growing season. Digging the hostas out may have damaged the surface roots and then adding topsoil may have further stressed them. On the other hand, Maple Leaf Scorch is a common problem with maples. It's environmental; when drought or heat stresses the tree, not enough water reaches the leaf margins to keep up with transpiration. Or, the symptoms can be from from overfertilization and too much salt has been translocated to the leaf margins. In your gardening region the bacterium Xyella fastidiosa has been associated with these symptoms, as well. Try to avoid over fertilizing (especially if the tree is growing in the lawn). Water deeply, and try to avoid root and trunk injury. If the tree is valuable you might want to hire an arborist to take a look. A certified arborist can study the tree and the growing situation and diagnose the problem. Best wishes with your maple!

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