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How to Save a Dying Maple Tree (And How to Identify Maple Decline)

How to Save a Dying Maple Tree (And How to Identify Maple Decline)

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It doesn’t matter what type of flower, shrub, or tree you plant in your yard, each one has its own characteristics and requirements for reaching their growth potential.

Trees are a little more of a challenge because they could be fine for a long period of time and then suddenly something is wrong.

Maple trees are stunning to look at when the leaves change color in the fall. They have the honor of being one of the top 10 most popular trees in our country.

There are 128 species of maple trees with some of them growing up to 100 feet tall. If you are faced with a maple tree that is dying, there are things you can do to bring it back to life.

The first thing you need to start with is finding out what is wrong with your tree. Here are some things you can do to narrow the problem down:

  • Look closely at the leaves. Make note if they are brittle or dry.
  • See if the trunk has any cracks on it.
  • Check to see if your maple tree has any sign of decay.

Your tree could be having problems because it is being overwatered or not getting enough water. Insects could have infested your tree or it could be something as simple as an extreme change in weather that your tree is not used to.

Another cause of distress for your tree could be coming from some of the plant life that is around it.

4 Reasons Why a Maple Tree Could Be Dying

Mulch Around the Base of Several Young Trees

Too Little Water – If your maple tree is not getting enough water it could start to show signs of dying. Make sure you water the area that is around three inches from the bottom of the maple tree.

Check the water level regularly.

Fertilizer – First gather a sample of soil from an area near the base of the tree to check its pH level. The best level should range from 5.5 to 7.3. If it is less than that it is dying from lack of nutrition.

Get the pH level back to the appropriate range.

Mulch – Too much mulch can be a bad thing when it comes to maple trees. Make sure that when you do mulch your tree you do not put any too close to the root ball. Also, don’t put any right on the trunk.

This prevents the water from getting through and just creates a new problem. The best way to apply mulch is from 12 inches to 18 inches away from the trunk no matter what size the tree is.

Pruning – It is important to prune your maple tree regularly but especially if you see any branches that look like they are diseased.

What Is Maple Decline?

Brown Maple Leaf

There are a number of different types of maple trees and many of them are more susceptible than others to becoming the victim of maple decline.

A maple tree can suffer from decline for various reasons, some of them include:

  • Stress – yes, plants and trees, in particular, can become stressed out.
  • Maple trees that live in the city can be exposed to water and air pollution that can deplete their energy levels.
  • Salts in the road, insect infestations, and a growth spurt of new leaves can use up a maple tree’s energy which can cause it to decline.
  • A nutritional imbalance, a long drought period, and breaking of their roots can also cause a loss of energy which leads to maple decline.

4 Symptoms of Maple Decline

  1. Slow growth – maple twigs should show growth of around two inches each year.
  2. Premature fall colors – if the leaves on your tree show their fall colors by late summer, it is a sign of decline.
  3. Changes in the leaves – pale-colored leaves that are smaller in size and fewer in quantity than in the past are a symptom of maple decline.
  4. Large dying areas – an abundance of dead branches and twigs is a sign your tree may be suffering.

How to Save a Tree with Maple Decline

Spraying Garden Hose

Even if your tree is in sad shape there are things you can do to save it:

  • Determining the cause of the decline is the first step you should take so you know what you need to do to correct the situation.
  • If the tree is sprayed regularly with salts from the road, try to divert the way the spraying occurs so it doesn’t reach the tree.
  • If the tree is dehydrated make sure you water it every week or so. The water should be able to reach 12 inches deep.
  • When you notice a decline in growth in your maple tree start using a fertilizer that has a slow-release. A fast release fertilizer may leave salt deposits which could keep the decline from healing.
  • In addition to adding fertilizer to the tree make sure you take all the dead branches, leaves, and twigs away so you leave room for new growth.

What to Do if Your Maple Tree Is Beyond Saving?

If you have noticed that your maple tree is dying and you have tried all of the suggestions above, it still may not be too late but it is definitely time to call in a professional.

An arborist will be able to check out your maple tree to see if it is beyond repair. If the roots of the tree are dead, nothing will save it.

If there are salvageable areas it is possible for a maple tree to regrow  branches of leaves. The professional will be able to do what has to be done to get this tree on the road to recovery.

If there is no hope you will need to have the tree removed so you will need a professional to guide you through this process as well. If the tree died from a disease you will want to make sure you do not put a new tree in the same spot.

Hopefully, you won’t have to face this situation but if you do it is best if you have the dying tree removed immediately.

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