How to Save a Dying Maple Tree

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Things You'll Need

  • Shovel

  • Soil pH test

  • Lime

  • Sulfur

  • Rake

  • Pruning saw

  • Denatured alcohol

  • Mulch


Keep a 3-inch layer of organic mulch spread out from the base to the drip line of the tree to help it retain water.


Plant trees at least 30 feet away from streets to minimize their exposure to salts and other chemicals.

Much of the colorful foliage associated with autumn is that of maple trees.
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When planted in urban environments, maple trees experience health problems caused by air pollution, disturbed soil and high exposure to salt, according to the University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program. Improper care, such as insufficient watering, may also injure or kill maple trees. Having concluded that a maple tree is dying, and being determined to save it, a vigorous regimen may be required. With the right supplies and a definite plan of action, however, you may be able to restore your dying maple's health.


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Step 1

Water your maple tree and the surrounding area, starting 3 inches from its base and expanding outward 3.5 times the length of its branches. Dig a 2-foot hole in the area. You know you have given the tree enough water when the bottom of the hole feels moist.

Step 2

Dig a 6-inch hole in the area and collect soil from the bottom of the hole to conduct a soil pH test. Maple trees growing outside of the pH range of 5.5 to 7.3 can suffer from lack of nutrients. Follow the directions according to the soil pH test. Amend the soil with limestone if it is too acidic or sulfur if it is too alkaline.


Step 3

Prune off suckers, or water spouts, which grow from the root ball of the tree and steal the tree's nutrients. Dig a hole near the sucker and cut it flush with the root ball. Replace the soil around the base of the tree.

Step 4

Remove branches that display signs of disease, which may include discolored leaves, leaf spots or twig dieback. Disinfect your pruning saw with a mixture of 70 percent denatured alcohol and 30 percent water. Cut the branches off near the branch collar.


Step 5

Pull by hand weeds or grass growing around the maple tree. Weeds and grass compete with the tree for the soil's nutrients. Use a spade to remove stubborn weeds. Avoid the use of herbicides. Maple trees cannot tolerate the chemicals.