Things You'll Need
The maple is a versatile and favored deciduous tree. Maple trees provide summer shade and dramatic fall foliage. Maple trees require nutrients to live and flourish. When these nutrients are deficient in the soil, the maple tree will not reach its landscape potential and will be susceptible to disease and insect problems. Nutrient-deprived maple trees will have shorter lives than similar, well-fertilized maple trees.
Fertilize Maple Trees As Needed
Determine if fertilization is necessary. Most soils contain adequate nutrients to meet the needs of maple trees. Take a soil sample when the tree is planted. Additional soil samples should be tested every 3 to 5 years. The best test to determine whether fertilization is necessary is a soil test. You will then know which nutrients are lacking. A soil test kit may be purchased at most garden supply stores or obtained from your county extension service.
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Amend the soil. The most important factor for a healthy maple tree is good soil. Maple trees lacking in iron will benefit from an application of bonemeal. Following the directions on the package, sprinkle meal around the base of the tree and water well.
Balance the soil's pH. In low pH soils, lime can be applied to raise the pH to a level that is more beneficial to the plant. Liming is best done before a tree is planted. Do not add lime unless a deficiency is indicated by a soil test. Purchase lime from a garden supplier or landscape contractor and follow package instructions.
Supplement the soil. Spread several shovelfuls of organic compost around the base of the tree. Work it into the soil.
Cover the base of the tree planting area with a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch. Straw, aged untreated sawdust, wood chips, shredded cardboard or newspaper may be used.
Top-dress the mulch layer with 1 to 2 inches of decorative gravel or pine bark.
Consider a commercial tree root feeder to inject fertilizer right where it is needed for your maple tree. The feeder is a hollow metal stake about 30 inches long that has a swivel hose connection and an anti-siphon check valve. The stake is pushed into the soil at the base of the tree to allow the roots to be fed directly.
Apply supplemental fertilizer only if shoot growth is less than 2 inches, or if a soil test reveals a specific nutrient deficiency.