Poorly planted tree in decline

Q: I have a tree in my front yard that is already changing leaf color in early September and has some black ooze coming out of spots on the trunk.

A: The root system is in decline, either from poor planting originally or from the tree trying unsuccessfully to grow in a limited area. In comparison, the one across the street seems to be doing fine. The vertical bark cracking and oozing slime will continue. I predict the tree will continue to decline over the next couple of years. Consider replacing it.

When the time comes, excavate lots of soil on either side of the planting spot first. Dig no deeper than the rootball. Then remove as much soil as you can from the tree pot or burlap bag. This allows you to untangle the roots and spread them into the area you excavated. Use the same native soil to backfill around the roots. Be sure the place where trunk meets roots is right at the soil level. Apply mulch and water as appropriate.

The new tree should thrive.