Maple – Planted Too Deep

Q: I have a five-year-old October Glory maple whose bark is peeling off in long chunks. Underneath, the trunk is smooth with dark spots. The leaves began turning colors and now are drying out.

I have a second tree within 10 ft of this tree which is fine. These trees have been very well cared for – pruning, fertilizer, watering.

I pulled back the mulch and raked out some dirt. I found a lot of surface roots.

Any thoughts?

A: The dying tree was planted too deeply initially. This is extremely common. Inexperienced landscapers and homeowners don’t take the time to identify the topmost main root in a tree rootball. Often it is covered by several inches of soil in the tree digging process.

Yet this root must be very close to the soil level when the tree is installed. If the main roots are buried deeply, the tree sends out fine roots near the soil surface. These roots never grow large enough to supply what the tree needs, the lower roots suffocate and it eventually dies.

Whenever a tree is planted it is imperative that the large roots be placed at the soil surface. If not…..you see the result.

Remove the tree and plant another…correctly.