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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Did We Mess Up Planting a Maple in This Climate?

Autumn Maple in rock landscape.
Bad idea.
Q. We have a young Maple tree in our yard that we planted last October. We may have messed up when we planted it to replace a shrub that was dead when we moved in. The tree is in full sun all day. Last year toward the end of summer it lost most of it's leaves - they looked burned. However it re-leafed itself before going dormant, and survived the winter. So we figured it was because it was a young tree and might be okay this year.  Again this year it has done the same thing and is at present in it's second bloom of leaves.

            My question is, would it be better to move this young tree to a part of the yard that is not in full sun all day, and if so am I right in believing it would be better to wait until it goes dormant for the winter before doing so? Any advice will be much appreciated.

A. Oh boy Bill. This is not going to be an easy tree to take care of. Maples is a huge category of trees. They range from the ornamental and shade trees common to the northern and eastern states to the highly ornamental Japanese maples and even our native maples. But unfortunately all of them will struggle.

Autumn Blaze maple in desert landscape
in Summerlin Nevada
            I have seen two instances of Japanese maples successfully grown in Las Vegas. They were in sheltered, shady parts of the landscape. The soil was highly modified with compost and other sources of organic matter. In one case many years ago it was growing in a lawn situation.
The other was in a shrub border with lots of organic mulch. Another possible Maple you could play with are native maples such as Bigtooth Maple. If this is a Red Maple, Sugar Maple Or Silver Maple you will have some big problems down the road if you can get it to grow. I like to encourage people to try new things but if these are maples used for shade trees I would get a replacement and check it off as part of your education.

I have one entry in my blog concerning maples that you might find interesting concerning Autumn Blaze Maple in Las Vegas.

Yes, you should move it now so it has the remainder of the fault to reestablish the root system and a spring for more growth before it gets hot. Pick the North side or shadiest part of the yard. Dig the hole 3 feet wide. Amend this volume of soil with about 75% compost. Plant it at the same depth. Stake it solidly in the soil so the root system cannot move. It is okay for the top to move but the roots should be totally immobilized. Cover the surface of the soil with 4 to 6 inches of wood mulch, keeping the mulch away from the trunk 6 to 12 inches. The mulch should totally cover the surface of the soil and the hole that was dug. I hope this helps. Try to find out or remember the type of Maple it is. This makes a huge difference.

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