How To Properly Care for Your Maple Trees
The beautiful splash of color isn’t the only reason to plant a maple tree on your property. For instance, they provide ample shade, produce maple syrup, and don’t require much attention. While these robust trees grow quickly, you must know how to properly care for your maple trees.
The most important factor when it comes to planting a maple tree is the soil conditions; therefore, you should test your soil before you plant.
Ideal Soil Conditions
Soil pH is a measure of acid and alkaline, and the scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 meaning neutral. Measurements below 7 indicate acidic soil, and anything above indicates alkaline.
Maple trees thrive in acidic soil, specifically ranging from 5 to 7 on the pH scale.
If you’re unsure if your soil is suitable for a maple tree, it’s best to test the spot where you plan to put the tree. The easiest way to do this is to purchase a cheap soil testing kit or a pH testing probe.
Based on the test result, you can add limestone to increase alkalinity or soil sulfur to increase acidity. Additionally, using organic compost as mulch can also help maintain the soil’s acid levels.
Once you’ve determined that your soil is suitable, you can dig. The hole should be about 3 feet deep, and you should keep in mind that your tree’s roots will need approximately 4 feet of space to spread. Therefore, try to avoid planting near sidewalks, fences, and any other potential obstacles.
Proper watering is critical, especially during the first several years leading up to maturity. On average, maple trees prefer moist but well-drained soil. However, it’s best to research the needs of the specific variety you want to plant.
After planting, you should soak the soil around the rootball deeply. Check the soil moisture until it’s dried out or only lightly damp for the following days. Checking the ground daily should help you to create an ideal watering schedule. Additionally, you can consider heavy rainfall to be watering.
First Growing Season
Although you may believe you need to water the tree every single day to encourage growth, that can actually do more harm than good. Water your tree only as necessary, but be sure to monitor soil moisture during a drought. Keep in mind that a heavy watering once in a while is much more effective than splashing a little bit of water around the plant daily.
Maple trees typically become established after two growing seasons, and they won’t require as much water or attention after this point. However, it’s still crucial to check soil moisture during a drought and provide supplemental water if necessary.
Maple trees greatly benefit from fertilizer, but established trees won’t require it because their root system can get nutrients from the soil and rainfall. However, younger trees use fertilizer to help establish a strong root system.
You should fertilize your maple trees in the early spring after they have a few new leaves. However, it’s only necessary if you think the tree looked full during the previous growing season.
While there are several options to choose from, you should consider using a slow-release fertilizer or organic plant food. However, you should avoid quick-release fertilizers for your maple tree.
Maple trees may bleed some of their sap when you cut them, and while it may concern you, it’s nothing to worry about. But if you like the natural look, you can avoid pruning. While the tree will grow properly without pruning, it can help create a more appealing canopy that provides more shade.
While you can prune maple trees in late winter or early spring, the best time to do so is in the summer. Pruning in the winter or spring can cause major sap bleeding, which can be more harmful to younger trees than older trees. Therefore, you should make any significant cuts during the summer season to avoid sap leaks.
Pruning your maple tree consists of removing any dead, crossed, crowded, or broken branches to ensure the tree stays in tip-top shape and continues to thrive properly. However, you should avoid removing any main branches; otherwise, you risk destroying the tree’s beautiful natural shape and sturdy structure.
If you’ve ever seen a tree with a bucket hanging on it, then you’ve witnessed a telltale sign of sap collection. While the majority of varieties produce sap, the best option for collecting is a sugar maple. Although you have to wait until your tree is has a diameter larger than 10 inches, you could be on your way to making your own maple syrup!
It’s best to tap the tree in February or March when it’s above freezing during the day and below at night. Sap usually flows for approximately six weeks, so you should do your best to time it just right.
Start by drilling a hole that matches the diameter of your spout. Drill at an upward angle starting about 3 feet from the tree’s base for the best results. Tightly insert the tap into the hole, hang up your bucket, and wait! However, you should ensure your bucket has a lid or cover to keep everything out besides sap.
While planting any tree is a lot of work, it’s usually worth it. Additionally, a maple tree provides so much more than beauty for your yard. They have a typical lifespan of around 400 years, which means they will be there for generations to come. If you plan to pass your property down to your children or grandchildren, the maple tree and syrup-making serve as a unique family heirloom and tradition.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how to care for your maple trees. If you don’t have any, be sure to start looking for maple trees for sale. For any questions, concerns, or pricing, be sure to check out Plant Me Green’s extensive selection of stunning maples.