Maple Tree Planting and Care Guide
A maple tree grows into a wonderful shade tree and offers a veritable show of colors during the autumnal change. There are several varieties of maple, include sugar maple and red or Japanese maple trees. They are not difficult trees to grow, and have a growth rate of around 2 feet per year or more. If you follow these 6 steps, your maple tree will respond with rapid, healthy growth.
Step 1: Selecting the Tree
When you are picking out a maple tree, look for one with a thick trunk and numerous main branches with several leaf or smaller branch junctures. This will provide a thicker, shadier crown and save you a lot of time trying to manicure it into shape.
For trees with balled roots, the roots system should be approximately 4 inches wider for every foot of growth for the tree.
Step 2: When and Where to Plant
Plant a maple tree in early spring, just as other plants are starting to put on buds. Make sure that the danger of a hard frost has passed. Never transfer a tree directly from a heated environment to cold soil to avoid shocking the roots. Maples are tall, so position yours in a place where it can receive plenty of sun and has room for vertical growth and expansion.
Step 3: Maple Tree Soil
When conditioning soil for a maple tree, mix equal parts of sifted compost, clay and sand into the existing soil where you will be planting. Condition an area that is at least twice the size needed, to allow for faster, easier future growth. For the best results, dig out the hole and mix it with other ingredients. This allows you to saturate the hole.
Step 4: Saturate and Plant
Fill the hole with water. Allow it to fully absorb into the ground, and then place the tree in the hole. Fill around the tree roots with the conditioned soil, packing it firmly. Plant the tree approximately 1 inch below the ground level. Use any remaining soil to build a small wall around the perimeter of the hole.
Step 5: Compost and Mulch Protection
Add 2 inches of sifted compost over the top of the hole and cover it all with 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch. Water the area well.
Repeat this process at least once a year, or you can do it as often as every 3 months. Use a pitchfork to loosen the soil after applying compost—press gently into it. Always water the surface well after applying compost to help it absorb into the soil.
Step 6: Pruning
As the tree grows, shape the crown by pruning unwanted branches, or snipping branch tips to increase the bushiness of the crown. Always make your cuts at a 45-degree angle to the stem, above a branch or leaf juncture. Never prune a plant so that a long bare stem is left at the end. This interferes with the plant circulation and promotes decay and plant disease.