How can we best care for this tree in our front yard? It was pruned by what we assume to be the city, but are not certain. Up to 4” cross sections of limbs are chopped and exposed. Also, there appears to be some nutritional deficiency or disease (see picture of leaf). Is there any special care we can take now to help this tree thrive next spring? Thanks!
Lenawee County Michigan
There are some things you can do.
Most important is to keep the tree watered during dry times when rainfall has been less than 1/2 inch over a couple weeks. This should be done even in early to mid fall.
Don’t further injure the trunk with mowers or string trimmers around the base.
Consider removing any grass in a circle around the trunk and placing 3 inches deep of organic mulch, such as shredded wood, in the circle. Keep the mulch pulled back from the trunk 2-3 inches so it doesn’t touch.
The off color leaves are likely a soil pH issue- some trees, including red maples, need acidic soil with a pH below 7.0. A soil test will tell your soil pH and nutrient levels. The test results will have a recommendation on how to correct the imbalances.
Lastly, you can hire a certified arborist, a professional who has taken training in care, diseases, pests and passed certification tests. He/she will come on site and give a complete diagnosis and a plant care plan. The root collar at the base of the trunk may need excavating and she can do that.
The pruning wounds in your picture should be not be painted with anything. They will heal over in time, taking several years, and keeping the tree cared for as outlined here will help that process. The arborist can also correctly prune back any long or ragged stubs , where possible, that are shown in your picture. Find certified arborists by zip code here—-
Here is the Tree Owners Manual, which shows how to correctly mulch and prune a tree on page 16 and page 19:
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