What is wrong with my maple tree? #869794

Asked May 23, 2024, 1:48 PM EDT

For the past couple of years, branches within the tree have died - perhaps 25% of them now. The trunk was wounded too, not sure how. Is there any way the tree can be made healthy again? It would be very sad to lose this tree as it affords shade for the front yard. Thank you.

Wayne County Ohio

Expert Response

There are some issues with your maple, and the best thing to do would be to have an arborist evaluate it for you and make recommendations. 

It is impossible to determine the cause of the decline from the photo; however there are some observations you can consider as you observe your tree. It may be possible that the tree was not planted at the correct depth. The "flare" is not visible. [More here about planting depth and flares: as well as how to plant and care for a tree, such as the importance of doing a soil test before selecting a tree for that spot, along with adequate watering, particularly in hot summer months without adequate rain.]

Also, there is a mound of planting around the base of the tree. Here is some good information about the importance of avoiding volcano mulching, in this article about "volcano mulching," and the sort of problems that can cause over the life of the tree.

There is little you can do at this point to change the planting depth. It may be helpful to remove the hosta planting at the base and apply organic mulch instead, at the correct depth. 

Here is another possiblity as to why your maple is not leafed out this year: Seedy Maples Make Maples Look Seedy

The hole looks like it was a nest of insects at one time. Whatever the original cause of the wound in the trunk, it too may be causing tree decline. 

Here's another guide to planting and mulching trees.

Finally, here is some information of organic lawncare that may be helpful for improved tree and soil  health, for instance the addition of compost/organic matter to improve soil conditions as well as overall plant health.

Dear Carolyn,

Thank you so much for such a thorough response.  You’ve given me much hope and much to study in preparation to take care of my maple tree!  I’ll do all I can to save it.

Very grateful,

On May 23, 2024, at 3:28 PM, Extension Foundation <<personal data hidden>> wrote:

The Question Asker Replied May 23, 2024, 5:44 PM EDT
You're most welcome!

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