Adding a maple tree to your yard is a great choice. They are some of the most popular trees found in North America. In fact, three different species of maple trees are native to Oregon specifically. These three species are the big-leaf maple, vine maple, and Rocky Mountain maple. For more information on these three different species of trees or for more on maples in general, take a look at “Maples Trees 101: What You Need to Know Guide.”
One thing we want to elaborate further on for you is how to properly care for young maple trees. It’s similar to caring for mature maple trees, but not exactly the same. Before you plant a young maple tree, here are five caring tips you should know.
Use the Proper Soil
Soil quality is so important for trees and plants in general, but it’s especially important when it comes to planting a young maple tree. Look for a heavy, nutrient-rich soil to use. Don’t use a soil that has a pH above 7.3, as maple trees need a more acidic environment to fully thrive. You’ll also want to make sure the soil you’re using is easy for you to dig in. The hole used to plant maple trees should be around three feet deep. This is because the roots will need at least four feet as they spread wide once they develop.
Make sure that the hole you dig is far enough away from any structures, as once developed, the roots of maple trees are very strong and can lift things, such as fences or foundations. Additionally, use the proper fertilizer, especially on newly planted trees. The fertilizer helps maintain the proper soil your young maple tree needs to continue to grow.
Use Mulch in Addition to Soil
Just as having the proper soil is important, so is using mulch. Mulch regulates the soil temperature by cooling the root zone, which reduces the evaporation of the water. This makes the growing environment for the tree much healthier, both for the roots and for the soil organisms that help the tree thrive. In addition to all of this, mulch helps keep the weeds down. Weeds can both be damaging to your tree and affect the value of your yard.
In terms of using mulch, it should be two to three inches deep, and there should be a gap of around four inches between the mulch and the tree trunk. This will prevent moisture from building. Too much moisture can make the tree susceptible to pests, rotting, and disease, just as drought can cause damage to a tree.
Give It Enough Water
All trees require water, but young trees need even more, especially for the first two years after planting. The first summer after planting is when you should pay extra attention to the young maple tree to make sure there are no signs of drought. These signs can include the leaves wilting or the edges of the leaves becoming dry and curled.
Maple trees need around 11 gallons of water a week to stay healthy, but young maple trees need even more, especially in dry, hot conditions. It’s good to water your tree a few gallons every couple of days rather than a little every day. A good way to assess how often to water is by checking to see if the soil has dried out. Additionally, it’s critical that the gallons of water reach the roots of the tree to make sure the tree grows properly and has a strong base.
Water at the Right Time
It may be tempting to just water whenever you have time, but it’s not advised. We recommend watering first thing in the early morning or late in the evening. Watering at these times reduces evaporation because the sun isn’t as strong, which means that more water will soak into the soil.
Be sure to completely saturate the soil each time you water. If you find the soil is still moist from the day before or from overnight rain, wait until the next day to water or until the soil dries out. Overwatering is bad for any tree, but especially for young ones.
Do Not Prune Right Away
If you notice any minor branch defects on your young maple tree while you’re planting it, it’s okay to trim those away. However, try not to prune your tree during its first year of growth unless absolutely necessary. A tree’s first year after being planted is its most significant time of growth. Pruning too much during this time can hinder the growth of the tree and do more damage than good. You don’t want to stunt the growth of your tree.
If you believe that your young maple tree may need pruning during this time, call a professional arborist to come to take a look and ask for their opinion before you take matters into your own hands. They’ll know how to properly go about fixing the situation without causing any harm to the tree.
Maple trees are a great choice for a Pacific Northwest yard. If you’re looking to plant a maple tree, be sure you have all of the above prepared. After planting, keep an eye on your tree to make sure that it’s getting enough water, not getting too much water, and growing healthy and strong. If anything seems off or if there are any signs of damage to the tree, call a professional.
At Mr. Tree, we’re here to answer any of your questions. We want your young maple tree to thrive and grow into a fully-grown maple tree that brings beauty to your yard and flourishes for years to come.