I live in cental New Jersey and have a maple in my yard that is not looking very good, it has alot of brown leaves and is losing and bark and branches. I thought the problem was ants that i found on it in May but i got rid of them by June. Another maple in the yard is half dead and is not growing any leaves on one side i dont know if it can be salvaged at all what is causing this and can i save either one of them.
It sounds like the maples are experiencing some kind of root or soil problem. Has there been any construction of any type near the trees in the past 5 to 8 years? Any kind of soil disturbance, including grading and adding fill soil, can affect the trees and cause these symptoms.
Another possibility is what is called girdling roots. It is common on maples. When the tree is young some roots can grow in a circular path around the base. It can happen when they are in pots, planted in the field at the nursery, or when planted into your landscape. The roots follow a pot or root ball, or even the hard soil at the edge of the planting hole. When the trunk of the tree grows large enough to contact the root, the two begin to strangle each other. Sap is gradually cut off to the parts above the area that is strangled, and branches begin to die.
It may be possible to remove the girdling roots with hammer and chisel. It must be done carefully, and should be done by an arborist with experience in this technique. If the damage is not yet too severe the tree may recover. If the bark tissues in the girdled area are already dead, there may not be much use to removing the offending roots. This type of surgery might ehlp the tree, might have no effect, or it could possibly speed up the decline process. Find a qualified arborist to help you diagnose the problem.
You can find International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborists at ISA Certified Arborists. www.isa-arbor.org
American Society of Consulting Arborists consulting arborists can be found at ASCA consulting arborists. www.asca-consultants.org
Russ Carlson, RCA, BCMA
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