Smaller leaves on trees year following root cutting

Asked May 20, 2018, 7:46 AM EDT

I planted 3 Pacific Sunset Maple trees 22 years ago. Last summer the city ordered sidewalk repairs and extensive root cutting. Now this spring the leaves are 1/3 smaller than they have been. Is this a problem? Will they ever be normal sized again? Are the trees dying?

Multnomah County Oregon japanese maples horticulture

1 Response

Root cutting can affect tree health. Roots undermine sidewalks, necessitating root cutting, but root cutting is hard on the trees. The trees have lost roots so the tree has difficulty getting enough water and nutrients. The tree will regenerate new roots, but that takes time. You can treat your trees as container trees since root space is very limited. (Trees in Containers https://www.treeservicesmagazine.com/tree-health/trees-in-containers/). Make sure you water the trees deeply maybe a couple of times a week, more when we get to the real heat of summer. In hot weather plants draw moisture from the soil through their roots, then release the water as vapor from their leaves. On a hot day a tree will go through alot of water. You could contact Portland Trees (503-823-8733, trees@portlandoregon.gov) for suggestions, since they deal with this situation often. You could also consult a licensed arborist (PNWISA https://pnwisa.org/hire-an-arborist/isa-certified-arborist-directory/) for their suggestions about care for your trees.