My maple tree is dying

Maple Tree Dying – What Are Causes Of Maple Decline

Maple trees can decline for a variety of reasons. Most maple are susceptible, but urban trees need special care to prevent stress factors that cause decline. Read on for information about maple tree decline treatment.

Maple Decline Information

Adverse conditions can cause a maple tree so much stress that it no longer thrives. City maples become the victims of air and water pollution, road salts, and construction and landscaping injuries. In the country, trees can be completely defoliated by insects, and putting on a new flush of leaves uses up valuable energy resources. Without energy reserves, trees become vulnerable to decline.

A maple tree depletes its energy reserves when it has to fight off environmental stress, and physical injuries leave trees open to secondary infections. Other causes of maple decline include root breakage and soil compaction from heavy equipment, nutritional imbalance, prolonged drought and vandalism. Almost anything that causes a tree to expend energy to recover can weaken the tree, and if it happens repeatedly the tree goes into decline.

Maple Decline Treatment

  • If you suspect maple tree dying, here is a list of symptoms of maple tree decline:
  • Failure to put on adequate new growth can indicate a problem. Twigs should add about two inches to their length every year.
  • Maples that are declining may have paler, smaller and few leaves than in previous years.
  • Maple dieback includes symptoms such as dead twigs or branch tips and dead areas in the canopy.
  • Leaves that change to fall colors before the end of summer are a sure indication of decline.

Early intervention can prevent a declining maple tree from dying. Try to identify the cause of the problem and correct it. If your tree is being sprayed with road salts, raise the height of the curb or construct a berm. Divert runoff from roadways away from the tree. Water the tree every week or two in the absence of rain. Make sure the water penetrates to a depth of 12 inches.

Fertilize annually until the tree shows signs of recovery. Use a slow-release fertilizer, or even better, a two-inch layer of compost. Quick release fertilizers add an excess of chemical salts to the soil.

Prune the tree to remove dead twigs, growth tips and branches. When you remove only part of a branch, cut back to just below a side branch or twig. The side branch will take over as the growth tip. Although it’s alright to remove dead branches any time of year, keep in mind that pruning encourages new growth. When you prune in late summer, the new growth may not have time to harden before cold weather sets in.

When you get sick, it can be hard to diagnose the problem. Though you have a runny nose and sore throat, that can be a number of illnesses. Trees get a variety of infections or are affected by their environment just like us— except they often have very different symptoms than sneezing or fevering!

In some cases, it can be easy to see what’s wrong: if your tree is seeping fluid or is growing some bizarre fungus on it, you know something’s wrong. However, oftentimes a tree has more subtle ways of showing it’s weakened.

Here are a few signs you might have a dying or sick tree on your hands:

Canopy Thinning

Your tree’s canopy, or its collection of leaves and branches, is what helps it absorb energy. Each leaf takes sunlight and converts it to food through photosynthesis, but without enough green chlorophyll to absorb the rays, your tree goes hungry. A tree’s canopy matters so dramatically, in fact, that trees with more than 30% canopy loss are usually beyond saving.

Canopy thinning can occur as the result of pest invasion, like by the infamous Emerald Ash Borer on Ash trees, Winter Moth on many hardwoods and ornamental trees and Gypsy Moth on pretty much any type of tree including pines, or because of soil compaction or root damage. Your tree may react to this stressful loss of foliage by sending energy reserves out to the wrong places in panic, resulting in unusual growth towards the base of the tree— not out of the end of a branch like it would in good health. If caught early enough, the tree can be often be saved, however, oftentimes the loss of canopy is gradual, over the course of three to five years— and harder to recognize until critical.

What you can do: Regularly check your tree’s canopy growth. At first sight of damage, inspect the area. Sometimes, proper aeration around the base of the tree can release some compaction, or fertilization can restore its health. Other times, you have an infection on your hands and need the help of an experienced professional.

Leaf Discoloration, Damage or Wilting

Leaf issues are perhaps one of the clearest signs that your tree is under stress. While not all forms are serious— for example, brown-tipped leaves often indicate improper watering and can be easily adjusted— other forms of damage can reveal bigger, long-term problems.

While some are simple to diagnose, like holes in leaves— which often indicate an insect problem— odd spotting, leaf withering or deformity occur for different reasons on various types of trees. This makes it hard to name a broad cause and takes some investigating.

What you can do: Generally, be on the lookout for anything other than healthy and vibrant leaves, flowering or foliage. Research your tree’s individual problem by searching the species and the symptoms online. This should help you narrow down a few possible causes and to treat yourself. Of course, it’s always best to consult a tree care professional before making any dramatic changes.

Premature Color Change & Shedding

While we all love Massachusetts’ beautiful fall foliage, however, a tree that changes color or drops its leaves too soon can be a warning sign. When you get a cold, you have two options: suffer through or give yourself some R&R. If the sickness is overwhelming, you might call off of work, throw on pajamas and watch Netflix.

When your tree is sick, it does something similar. A tree might decide to “cut its losses” early, or stop directing all its energy to new growth when it feels it can’t recover before the season transition. Instead of depleting its energy and being vulnerable all winter, your tree might shed its leaves and enter an early dormancy, “sleeping off” the sickness until it can fight it off in spring.

What you can do: If your tree’s leaves are turning yellow, orange or red before all your neighbors’ trees, and you start to notice fast leaf shedding, consult an professional. They may be able to diagnose the problem and inject your tree with a deep root fertilization or pesticides, acting like vitamins or medicine to build resistance, fight infection and recover over the winter.

Cracks in Trunk or Major Limbs

Cracks in your tree may have been caused by storm or winter damage, where wicked winds or heavy snow caused breakage. Or, other trees— like Cherry or Maple trees— can experience bark splitting from sun scalding or “frost cracks” over the winter.

While cracks may seem harmless, it’s akin to you getting a cut: a wound that’s susceptible to infection. Disease or insects can enter through this opening, causing significant problems.

What you can do: Early winter is the perfect window for dormant pruning. This is the best time to cut your tree because the cold means insects are sparse, diseases are at bay and your tree won’t waste resources trying to “heal” until spring— promising a better bloom. Discover the best way to prune here.

Protect Your Tree, Before It’s Too Late

Many trees have long lifespans, ranging from 15-20 years for smaller ornamentals— to up to 100 years for the mighty Maple. If you want to see your investment thrive for many years, you have to take care of it.

Many Massachusetts trees are weakened by invasive insects, but few realize that preventative measures can be taken to protect your towering beauties, instead of trying to nurse a dying tree back to health. Just like you’d spray your yard with insecticide, you too can inject your tree, and safely ward off pests.

In addition, deep root fertilizers can be injected, giving your tree the minerals it needs to grow tall and proud.

Learn more about how our Arborjet tree injections work and safeguard your prized investments with the help of our team at Green Sphere.

Give us a call at (855)-391-1343 to speak with a professional, today.

Decaying trees can be dangerous, as recent events have shown. Since February, five people have been killed by falling trees in Canton, Lyndeborough, N.H., and most recently, Abington, where a tree crashed onto a passing car, killing the couple inside.


The rotted tree was felled by high winds and snow, authorities said. Residents said the tree had been dead for years and should have been removed. Town officials have said it is unclear whether it was on private or public land.

Trees near the end of their lives are more likely to be knocked over during storms or by significant gusts and should be removed if they pose any danger to property or people, arborists say.

“The responsibility falls on the homeowner to maintain or remove dead or hazardous trees,” said Marc Hansen, president of the Massachusetts Arborists Association.

He recommends that homeowners and business owners survey their property for any obvious signs of decaying trees and call a certified arborist for trees that look as if they may be in distress. Other signs that a tree may be decaying include:

■ Dead leaves clinging to branches of deciduous trees through the winter. On healthy trees, they should fall to the ground.

■ A tree that is beginning to lean, or has bare branches on one side, may have root damage.

■ Vertical cracks, or seams, on the trunk.

■ Areas of smooth wood where bark has fallen off. In healthy trees, new bark would grow in its place.


■ Small branches sprouting from the base of a tree.

Many residents often overlook such warning signs.

“My frustration is that people want to spend more money on their grass than on their trees; they want to look down instead of up,” said Bob Kelley, an arborist at Arborway Tree Care in Hyde Park. “Trees are a lot more expensive to take care of. But it can be a real tragedy when they don’t take care of them.”

Still, enough wind or stress can cause healthy trees to fall as well, he said.

“Sometimes, there’s no way to predict when it will happen,” he said.

A memorial was set up at the site where a couple were killed in Abington when their car was struck by a tree falling in high winds.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

David Abel can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @davabel.

What is killing my red maples?

Thanks for using Ask a Master Gardener with your Maple tree question. Thanks for sending the photos along with your question.
You trees are Crimson King Norway Maples. They have deep red leaves during the growing season. A Red Maple has green leaves with a bright red fall color.
Norway maples are susceptible to a soil born fungal disease called Verticillium Wilt. The fungus blocks the vascular system of the tree preventing water and nutrient movement within the tree. When this happen, a branch will wilt, followed by death of that branch. As the disease progresses, the entire tree is likely to succumb to the fungal pathogen.
The way to diagnose at the site is to take a branch that is showing symptoms and cut at an angle to expose the vascular portion of the branch. The tissue will show green streaking in maples and brown in other species. To confirm the disease, you need to have it cultured at a lab. The Ohio State University has the C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Dignostic Clinic. You can find information on sending samples at:

There is a fee associated with this service.
Here is a fact sheet about verticillium wilt from Michigan State University:

Another issue that can cause loss of trees are girdling roots. These are roots that encircle the trunk of the tree, causing a lost ability of the tree again to move water and nutrients through the plant. That normally results in a one sided loss of branches above the girdling root. The trunk of the tree will exhibit a flat spot on the trunk above where the root has grown to stop the expansion of trunk size. Again, this does not usually cause the entire death of a tree.
I do see some holes in the branches in the photo you sent, however, I feel that those were insect attacks that occurred once the tree was in a weakened state. The photo of the interior of the branch shows no sign of insect infestations.
Since the trees were in a line, it is possible that the roots of the trees have grown together, called grafting. If so, then they are sharing the disease organism from one to the next. However, as you might notice in the fact sheet, the third tree may not develop symptoms of the disease for some time. The wet conditions of this winter and spring definitely does not help the health of any of the trees.
I trust this has been helpful to identify your issue. Sorry that there is not a fungicide that will help prevent or stop Verticillium Wilt. Thanks for the question.

Disease in a tree can come in many forms, often spreading from the ground up. There are a wide variety of causes of tree diseases, the symptoms of which vary just as widely. You may see the roots of your tree beginning to rot due to a fungal infection, or damage done to the bark as a result of an invasion of beetles. Occasionally, you may notice the tree beginning to die from the top down, a probably result of a phenomenon known as dieback.

Dieback is defined as the gradual death of tree branches or plant shoots that spread from the tips inward to the trunk or stem. Dieback may have one cause or a variety of causes which contribute to the gradual weakening and eventual death of a previously healthy tree. The process can take years and may not be a result of any single disease, but a variety of factors. If you notice signs of dieback in your trees, you’ll need to begin an investigation to discover the causes.

Soil Health

The health of the soil is a major factor in the overall health of the tree. There are several ways you can check to see if your soil is healthy. The first thing you can do is simply check the soil itself. Healthy, nutrient dense soil will have lots of organisms living inside of it. There will be worms, insects, and plant growth in any given handful of soil you investigate. If you can’t seem to find any signs of life, that’s a strong indicator that your soil is not healthy.

You can also check for the porosity of the soil. Healthy soil should not be too hard, which will prevent the movement of water and oxygen. It should also not be too powdery. Healthy soil will be made of different sized crumbs that don’t immediately fall apart in your hands. This is a sign that the soil is full of the organic matter your tree needs to survive.

You can also test the pH of the soil – that is, whether it’s become too acidic to support healthy plant life – using a pH test probe. You’ll dig a hole in the soil and fill it with distilled water. Then insert the test probe into the mud you’ve created and check the reading. Do this several times in several different spots to get a complete picture of the health of your soil.

Parasitic Insects

Another large factor in the dieback of trees is invasive insect species. As trees become weakened and stressed, they tend to produce more nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus than normal. As a result, the trees become more attractive to insect attackers. As the insects invade, the tree becomes more and more stressed and the amount of nutrients that attract insects increases more and more. The insects do damage to the tree, which over time will cause the tree to die.

To protect your tree from an insect attack, you should try to ensure the tree is healthy in other ways too. You should also regularly inspect the tree for any signs of an insect attack. If there are any signs of insect damage, you can apply insecticides to the tree or use traps or oil to kill insects that are already there. Insecticidal soaps and oils can be purchased from your local gardening suppliers.

Fungal diseases

Fungal diseases are another possible cause of tree dieback. There are many different types of fungal infections that can occur, threatening various species of tree. Dutch elm disease, beech bark disease, elm yellow disease and oak wilt are just a few examples of the infections that can threaten trees.

As with the above examples, prevention is the most important measure you can take to keep your tree healthy. If you see any parts of the tree that are already decaying or dead, you should remove them. Sometimes, you may have to remove an entire tree to prevent the infection spreading to other nearby trees.

Fungicides can be sprayed around the tree as well; this will help control the spread of fungi from one tree to another. Insects are a major carrier for fungi as well, so it’s a good idea to control the insect population using the methods mentioned above to keep diseases from spreading. Certain trees are also bred to be resistant to fungal attacks. If you are interested in planting new trees on your property, consider using these hardy breeds to prevent the spread of those diseases.

If dieback occurs

If you’ve taken the preventative measures we’ve mentioned above and are still noticing dieback occurring in the trees on your property, you will need to take some other measures. You can prune dead or dying branches, although this will only treat the symptom and not the cause itself. You should remove any overgrown root stock to improve the health of the soil. It’s a good idea also to plant as many local shrubs and smaller plants as you can. These will attract local birds, wasps and spiders that can serve as predators to disease-spreading insects.

As always, if you are unsure of what to do, you can contact a professional tree service to inspect your tree and advise you on what to do to halt dieback.

Tagged as: Dieback, Tree Disease, Tree Pruning

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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

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?

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

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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2shares How to Save a Dying Maple Tree (And How to Identify Maple Decline) was last modified: November 20th, 2019 by The Practical Planter

The trees and plants in the surroundings are living things that need to be taken care of. The trees and plants provide a lot of benefits not only to mother earth but also to us, human beings. Trees add life as well as color to the environment.

For some, trees can be a great addition to enhance your garden and home facade. Thus, in this article, I am going to share with you six efficient tips on how to save a dying tree in your backyard.

Note: This is a guest-post by Lucy Clark of Please join me in welcoming her to the Runamuk blog!

Ready? Here are the six things you need to know about how to save a dying tree:


Not all people can classify a dying tree from an already dead tree. They are completely two different things. The confusion starts because both look lifeless, dried up, and without any trace of green leaves. So, before you go ahead and save a dying tree, know first if it is dying or already dead. Nourishing a dead tree back to life would be pointless and time-consuming.

A dying tree usually has a bent structure, cracks, decay and dried-up.

A dying tree may have the following signs:

  • Bent structure – The tree is not upright because the root is losing its strength.
  • Cracks – There is a continuous crack on the trunk of the tree.
  • Decay – There are fungi or mushrooms on the surface of the tree.
  • Dried Up Wood – Extreme dryness is a sign of a dying tree. The branches look lifeless and can easily crack when you put pressure in it.
  • Light to No Leaves – Dying trees often have fewer leaves than healthy trees. Leaves can be found in a few branches.


An arborist has the necessary training and knowledge to analyze and treat any tree problem.

Since you already know the signs of a dying tree, the next thing you need to do is to determine the cause of why it is dying. Determining the exact cause is quite tricky; hence, you might need to consult an arborist for proper guidance. This will increase the chance of saving your tree.


Watering can be detrimental to the health of some trees.

Moisture issues are commonly the reasons why a tree is prone to dying. Mature trees can be adversely affected by too much or too little water. Dehydration can kill all living beings – humans, animals, and trees. To ensure your trees grow healthy and sturdy, make sure that they are properly nourished. You have to check and make sure that the area where the tree is located has a good drainage system. Using your garden hose, set it on high stream and water the tree from 0.5 to 2 minutes. Control the nozzle and avoid drowning the soil with too much water. If you do not have enough time to water the tree, setup an automated sprinklers instead.


How does using a mulch save a tree? Mulching is one way to nourish the soil surrounding your tree. However, when not done correctly, it can be harmful to the trees. Be sure not to put too much mulch around the base. Just place enough mulch to allow the roots to breathe. Dig the ground so that the mulch has direct contact with the roots. Make it at least 5 inches deep. Using your rake, spread the mulch, only apply 1.5 inches of mulch. In doing so, it helps prevent a host of other tree problems like bacteria and fungi infections.

Organic Mulch can save dying trees. It contains compost, tree bark chips, wheat straw and others.


Soils with organic fertilizers remain loose and airy which can help a dying tree.

Fertilizers are another item that can help your dilemma on how to save a dying tree. When using fertilizers, avoid sprinkling or spraying it too much to the trees. Before jumping to the conclusion that a sick or dying tree needs fertilizer, test the soil first to make sure you are saving the tree and correcting the problem. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to get the full benefits of the fertilizers. When you are unsure, consult it first with an arborist. Perhaps, it is not the soil nourishment that causes your tree to die. There could be other factors involved like pests or dehydration.


If you want to learn about how to save a dying tree, it is helpful if you research on appropriate pruning techniques. Know the kind of tree and the disease because there is a proper pruning for each, and it should be adjusted accordingly. If there are unhealthy areas noticeable on a tree, correctly removing the diseased sections could save a tree’s life. Be sure to get rid of the unhealthy branches to prevent the problem from spreading. Use sanitized shears, knives, or saw to remove unwanted branches.

Pruning can help your tree retain its nourishment.


There are so many ways on how to save a dying tree, but these six steps are the forerunner. In some cases, the reason why a tree is dying could be more than just about nourishment and diseases. Weather conditions and expected lifespan could also play a role. Trees have saved us so many times, and it is now our turn to save them. So, go ahead and look around your garden for some trees to save!

Thank you for reading and don’t hesitate to share your tree-story below! Happy gardening!

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Signs Your Tree is Dying and Steps to Take to Improve It

The lifespan of a tree varies from species to species. For instance, ornamental trees may live only 15-20 years, whereas a large maple tree can live 75-100 years, and some trees can live even longer—up to a millennia or two in some cases. However, many of them share the same traits when it comes to signaling whether or not the tree is healthy or requires attention as it starts to decline before its time.

There are times a tree becomes ravaged by disease, damaged in a storm, or suffers some other kind of malady that cuts its lifespan short. If you suspect your tree is showing signs that it’s dying, look for the characteristics below and some ways you might be able to help it before it is too late.

Signs of a Dying Tree

Trunk Damage

If a tree has trunk damage, there is likely to be signs of declining health and possibly even death of the tree. For instance, if the tree has missing bark on the trunk, cankers, or vertical cracks, it might be too far gone. Likewise, if the inner layer of the tree bark is brown when you scratch it, the tree is likely to be dead. (In contrast, a healthy trunk’s inner layer would be a whitish color.)

Root Damage

Many things can cause root damage such as cutting grass too close to the roots, soil erosion, and tree diseases. Some signs you may have root damage that is contributing to the tree dying include:

  • The tree suddenly has a noticeable lean where it did not before
  • The base of the tree may have small branches sprouting up along it
  • The roots appear and feel slimy

If the branches of a tree are not keeping their leaves during the correct season when they should be growing; have brown, brittle leaves instead of a full canopy; or hold onto dead leaves beyond their growing season, there could be some tree health issues at play. Additionally, if the branches have weak joints where they connect with the tree, the tree may be dying.

Fungus Growth

A tree that is growing fungus is a huge red flag for major health issues. The tree may be too far gone to save, meaning you could be better off removing it from the property. A large fungus at the roots or on the trunk of the tree may indicate the tree is rotting inside, and other signs such as bark beetles, carpenter ants, or other insects present may also signal a dead or dying tree.

Negative Changes in Local Conditions

Sometimes the environment the trees are in can contribute to their health, for good or for bad. If conditions close by, such as a building being built or taken down, lead the tree to experience more or less light or wind than usual, then that may impact their health.

Also, in the case of nearby construction, the tree could experience a decline in health if the tree’s roots are damaged in the process. It is important to consider the distance between your project and the local flora to determine if the trees need to be moved or if your project needs further planning to avoid causing harm.

How to Prevent Tree Damage

Although you may have a tree that is beyond saving, you may have others that could benefit from some attention now to avoid health problems in the future. Take these steps to ensure you keep trees healthy long-term!

  1. Take care around roots and trunk – When you are cutting the grass, avoiding bumping exposed roots. Leave plenty of room around the base of the tree so you avoid accidentally scratching or damaging the trunk with yard work tools.
  2. Prune smartly – Not only should you prune your trees when necessary, but the location of the pruning and time of year can play a factor. If you don’t have time to dedicate to this tree maintenance, a certified arborist can help!
  3. Be mindful of weather conditions – If you are in a drought, water your trees and be aware of any major health conditions that might be impacted when the weather goes through extreme swings, such as if a cold snap hits in the middle of spring or summer.
  4. Strategically plant new trees – Some of the problems with trees that eventually develop problems and die has to do with their location. if you plant new trees in areas where they have good exposure to light and water, and where they have room to grow fully, there is less of a chance they will become crowded out by development, competition from other plants, etc.

Steps to Take to Restore Tree Health

If your tree is showing any signs that it is dying, don’t lose hope! You may still be able to restore its vitality through tree injections, tree trimming, and other tree services. An arborist can help diagnose tree problems and determine if there is a way to strategically save it. However, there is a chance your tree could be beyond saving, in which case the only option left would be tree removal. But you will only know what outcome is the correct course of action after their evaluation of your tree.

Contact a Little Rock Certified Arborist

To get help for a dying tree or for other tree services, contact David’s Tree Services in Little Rock!

View full sizePeggy Turbett, Plain Dealer fileSugar maples, like most trees, can lose leaves and branches due to disease, insects, drought, compacted soil or other problems.

I am writing this email on behalf of my father, who lives in Novelty. He has a 20-foot sugar maple in the backyard that has been in the ground for a decade. This robust tree is of specimen quality, symmetrical and with a full bloom of branches.

However, two weeks ago, dead branches started appearing in groups; the tree now has six such groups. My dad’s first instinct was to trim the branches, but he noticed green at the point of the cut and so left the other dead clusters untouched.

What would you advise him to do? Is it simply a function of the recent unusually heavy rainstorms? And would he have reason to be optimistic that the tree will return to health next spring? — Mark Mowls

If a branch loses leaves prematurely and you are not sure it is still alive, use your thumbnail to scratch away a thin layer of bark on a twig. If you see green (the cambium layer), it is alive, so don’t prune it just yet.

The PDRoger Gettig

Here are some questions that might help to diagnose the problem. Did the leaves turn color and then drop off, or did they shrivel up on the branch, remaining attached for a time? When maples do this in summer, it is usually a reaction to something like too much or too little water, herbicide damage, damage to roots due to soil compaction, or even fertilizer or salt damage.

Some maple diseases have symptoms similar to those resulting from adverse environmental conditions. Take a fresh sample of an affected branch with leaves (gather the fallen ones if not attached — an insect called the petiole borer might be involved) to your local Geauga County branch of the OSU Extension office to get a diagnosis. You can reach the office at 440-834-4656,

Trees, sugar maples included, can have problems related to diseases, insects and stress (e.g., drought or compacted soil). They may exhibit symptoms caused by just one or a combination of factors. Stress can make them susceptible to other problems. For example, drought can weaken their defenses to certain insects.

Most problems can be avoided by properly planting the right tree in the right place, followed by proper maintenance. Your father’s tree is growing in poorly drained soil (specifically Wadsworth silt loam), and the record rainfalls may have affected it, as you guessed. This particular sugar maple may be fine in years of normal rainfall, but maybe not this year.

If the leaves stayed on long enough to store energy and make buds for next year, you have reason to hope that the tree will leaf out like normal next spring. Since we haven’t figured out yet how to successfully reattach limbs, I would err on the side of patience. Prune next spring if you need to. And send the extra rain to Texas.

By Roger Gettig, Holden Arboretum

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