Maple Tree in Clay Soil - Dying

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  #1  
Old 07-23-10, 06:40 AM
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Maple Tree in Clay Soil - Dying

So my soil when dry is like cement. It took me hours to dig a hole for a new maple tree. The tree about 12 feet high and root ball was probably 2 feet in diamter. I dug a large hole and back filled with mostly the dirt i took out but also some potting soil mixed in.

After about a month the leaves on the lower portion of the tree started to turn toward a brown color (from green)..but not totally brown or dead yet. I watered the heck out of it for about a week because it had been very hot and dry.

After a week of slow watering i though that maybe it would start to spring back to life. I know it's only been a week. I decided to move the mulch (about 2 inches) to check out the soild..... OMG it was soaked -I dug down a foot and there was a pool of water. So much clay that I guess it does not drain well.

So now it has been 2 more weeks after I dug to check the soil and the tree looks worse. (sorry no pic but I can try to get one). And it has raine da ton the pst week.

I have no idea what to do. I'm in Rochester, NY. The tree is a maple (it has a tag saying red maple but the leaves are (were) green. The leaves did not turn a nice bright reddish color like some maples do in the fall around here... rather they just looked like they were starting to dry up.

Any ideas? Suggestions?
 
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Old 07-23-10, 10:34 AM
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When did you plant it? Trees usually need to be planted in the fall, when it's cooler and rainier. If you planted it during this hot weather, that could be the reason it's not making it.
The other thing could be you got a dud tree. Happened to me twice.
It's been my experience there's not much you can do when a tree dies or is dying, except replace it.
 
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Old 07-23-10, 10:37 AM
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thanks

planted in june - even with the hot dry weather i used alot of water.

i'm not sure how to identify a dud of a tree - it looked great when it was dleivered. took two guys to take it out of the truck - the root ball prob weighed about 125 pounds..not that it matters but it was not a little tree.
 
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Old 07-23-10, 10:49 AM
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i'm not sure how to identify a dud of a tree
They look great when you plant them and then they die.

I'm pretty sure the weather had a lot to do with it, especially when they're big. They do best when they're planted when it's cool.
 
  #5  
Old 07-23-10, 11:25 AM
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I'd guess you drowned it. If it was soaked with light watering (I assume that's what you mean...not a continuous flow for a week), you can imagine what it was like after the heavy watering. It may also have been planted too deep...a common mistake. You said a large hole...with a 2' root ball, the hole should have been at least 6' or wider to the same depth as the root ball. I would check the roots around the perimeter and see if they have rotted or died back. If so...it might be too late

Many times (in my experience) planting in the heat will cause a tree to drop leaves and not thrive the first year...but they may recover in the following spring.

The local nursery or extension office should have specific info on planting and watering requirements for the general area.

Oh...I had red maples all over my place in VA, and they rarely turned the nice red you would expect..the climate was just wrong.

EDIT....meant to put this link in.....did you follow most of the general requirements mentioned? Trees Are Good - Tree Care Information
 
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Old 07-26-10, 07:29 AM
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thanks gunguy45,

well yesterday i dug out the tree and raised it a few inches and back filled with dirt - i'm thinking this could help dry it out. it rained a lot the past week. and i wanted to see the roots - i clipped a few and they were purpleish and greyish - i'm guessing that is not a good sign. they should be vibrant and bright (almost white) right???. granted the roots are not huge. anyway - i clipped a few roots just a little bit to give them a fresh ende and replated the tree - it's very much looking dead now but i figured i would try something since it was on it's way out.
 
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Old 07-26-10, 07:44 AM
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Yeah...that doesn't sound good. I agree roots should normally be a whitish color. Well, I think you have done all you can. Back off on the watering and see what happens.
 
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Old 08-22-10, 03:04 AM
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Sounds to me like the tree could not take up water fast enough. Anytime you transplant a tree the roots are damaged some, and the tree needs to "settle in" before it can start supporting the leaves. When you add in the evaporation from high heat, the problem gets worse. I only plant trees when they are dormant. Maples actually prefer moist soil, but since the tree's transporation system wasn't working the extra water was denying the roots oxygen.
 
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