Q: I have a red maple tree in my backyard. I am not entirely certain it is healthy, because of the way it leafs out in the spring. We aren’t seeing any signs of pest or disease on the tree.
Answer: This is a good question, and what follows is an example of our approach in answering similar questions we receive. Photos were provided with the inquiry, and that is helpful. We review the photos, University of Florida IFAS publications (edis.ifas.ufl.edu) as needed, and determine what additional information is required.
In this case, several questions arose, including: Was the tree sprayed with a chemical? How old is the tree? Is it planted in turfgrass or a mulched landscape bed? How large is the mulched bed, and what is the diameter of the tree trunk? Did you plant the tree? How deeply is it planted? Are you fertilizing the tree and/or turfgrass and, if yes, how often? What are your watering practices? Can you see the top of the root ball, or is it buried?
The answers we received included: No chemicals were sprayed on the tree. It was planted three years ago. There is no turfgrass within 12 inches of the tree. No turf or tree fertilization and watering once each week. Homeowner thinks they can see the top of the root ball.
Considering all these answers, the recommendation is to fertilize the tree and add mulch so there will be 2 feet of mulch for every 1 inch of tree trunk diameter.
Many times trees/plants are too deeply planted, which is detrimental to their survival. For information on how to plant trees, please see the University of Florida IFAS website, http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/planting.shtml. You also view the University of Florida publication on “Acer rubrum: Red Maple” by Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/ST/ST04100.pdf.
Lynn Barber is the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods agent at Hillsborough Extension. Reach her at BarberL@hillsboroughcounty.org.