Re: [gardeners] Sugar maple tree needs help

Margaret Lauterbach (
Tue, 07 Jul 1998 13:14:13 -0600

At 02:56 PM 7/7/98 -0400, you wrote:
>Hi everyone!
>While the soap operas are truly exciting (I can't wait to hear about
>Belle's new tatoo), I have a question about my mother's sugar maple.
>She had it liberally thinned out (not topped - t'would be a horror) last
>year by a professional arborist and now half of it seems to be dying.
>This tree is at least 40 years old (probably older) and fully matured in
>northern Ohio (zone 5 along the lake).  She had it thinned because she
>needed to get more light through it to the yard below. It has always
>been incredibly healthy (never a fungus or disease).  The leaves on the
>back half are all much smaller than the ones on the front half and there
>are very few new side branches on that side, too.  She's scared to death
>that they took out too much and is trying to figure out what to do.
>She's tried calling the arborist back to have them come out and look at
>it, but they are playing telephone tag right now and can't seem to get
>in touch with each other.  So I thought I would see if all you brilliant
>people have any ideas.  About a month ago, she put Jobe's fertilizer
>tree spikes all around it following the package directions for placement
>of the spikes.  Is there anything else she can do to help this tree
>recover?  Will deep watering help?  
>If anyone has any ideas on how to save this tree, I would be truly
>thankful. It was the first tree I climbed as a child, it was the first
>tree my 4 year old climbed last year, and I am as much in love with it
>as I am with the house I grew up in.
Alice, I would suggest you go to your public library and look at P.P.
Pirone's Tree Maintenance, pp. 395 to 404 to see the Schindler's List of
what might be happening to the tree.  Call your county agent and ask what
is the last date you can safely apply fertilizer to a tree so it will
approach dormancy in timely fashion.  In Southwest Idaho, June 15 is the
last date or else the tree enters dormancy late and is in danger of freeze
damage.  If you've already passed the date, dig up the tree spikes.  Water
deeply, sure.  But make the arborist come back and see what's wrong with
the tree.  Good luck, Margaret