Maple – Lower Trunk Wound

Q: My ‘October Glory’ maples have something wrong with them. The bark is cracking and peeling. The trees were planted a year ago by the builder. There are a few other trees in the neighborhood that have the same problem.

My homeowners association tells me I’m responsible for the trees since they’re inside my yard. What can I do?

A: Bark cracking is usually a symptom of a tree having been planted too deeply. I don’t see the flare at the bottom of the trunk (where the tree trunk widens to become the root system) so this is consistent with my guess. Builders sometimes plant trees deeply so they avoid root damage under sidewalks. Yours do seem to be planted too close to the sidewalk.

In addition, mulch has been piled up too high on the trunk. This leads to lower trunk decay. Further, grass has been allowed to grow under the drip line of the tree. Shallow mulch should be on the soil out to the ends of the branches.

To summarize:

Planting too deep – STRIKE ONE
Mulch too high – STRIKE TWO
Grass under tree – STRIKE THREE

Bark missing completely around the trunk base – YER OUT!

Some of the trees in the neighborhood may survive…but if they all look as bad as the couple you’ve sent me, they will die in the next five years.

If you’d like a second opinion, go to

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