How to Plant a Japanese Laceleaf Maple Tree


Chose the proper location for your tree before planting. Japanese Laceleaf Maples thrive in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8, and require well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Such trees are suitable in shady lawns or landscape beds. Normally, you will purchase a container-grown tree. Handle it carefully, making sure not to break branches or roots. Plant the tree in fall or early spring to increase your chances of growing a healthy specimen.

Step 1

Determine the diameter of the container of the tree using a tape measure. Chose a location and, with a pointed shovel, begin digging a hole three times the diameter of your measurement. Remove the soil and set it outside of the hole.

Step 2

Use a tape measure to determine the depth of the container. Continue digging the hole until the depth is twice as deep as the root ball. The sides of the hole should slope inward, so the bottom of the hole is about twice as wide as the bottom of the root ball.

Step 3

Return a few shovel scoops of soil to the hole to form a mound at the bottom. Turn the tree and container on its side. Gently pull the tree and root ball from the container. With a sharp knife or pruning shears, make several vertical slices in the root ball to separate the roots. If roots are knotted at the bottom, cut these and spread them apart with your hands.

Step 4

Gently lift the tree by grasping the sides of the root ball. Set the tree inside the hole. If the top of the root ball is lower that the soil line, lift the tree out of the hole and set it aside. Add more soil to the hole and repeat this process until the top of the root ball is about 2 inches above the top of the hole.

Step 5

Fill half of the hole with soil evenly around the root ball. Press the soil down with your hands to pack it around the tree roots. Fill the hole with water within a few inches from the top. Wait several minutes for the water to drain.

Step 6

Add soil to the remainder of the hole until it is even with the top of the root ball. Press it down and water the tree again. Remove any leftover soil or spread it evenly elsewhere in the garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Digging shovel
  • Sharp knife or pruning shears
  • Tape measure or yard stick


  • UT Gardens: Tree Identification Tutorial Summary: Acer palmatum
  • University of Tennessee Extension: Transplanting Trees
Keywords: Japanese laceleaf maple, Japanese maple planting, plant a maple

About this Author

Aaron Painter began as a garden writer in 1999, publishing in "Louisiana Gardener" and "Baton Rouge House and Home" magazines. He has more than 10 years of professional experience in landscaping and horticulture and six years in broadcast journalism. Painter holds a B.A. in mass communication and horticulture from LSU, and now lives in Nashville, Tenn.