How to Plant a Red Maple Tree


Valued as a shade tree, red maple (Acer rubrum) is capable of reaching a height of 60 feet and width of 45 feet. This deciduous tree is cold hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 9. In the spring, red maple trees produce colorful buds followed by green leaves almost 5 inches across. The leaves of the red maple tree turn brilliant shades of red, yellow or orange in the autumn. Red maple trees are slow to root, and should be planted in the spring.

Step 1

Locate a full sun and well-drained location in the landscape with sufficient room to accommodate the growth potential of a red maple tree.

Step 2

Dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the root ball is tall. About 20 percent organic matter, like leaf mold or top soil, can be mixed in with the removed soil if desired.

Step 3

Remove the red maple tree from the container. If planting a ball and burlap (B&B) tree, keep the root ball wrapped.

Step 4

Place the root ball in the center of the hole. The top of the soil of the root ball should be at or slightly above (about 1 inch) ground level. Add or remove soil from the bottom of the hole if necessary.

Step 5

Backfill the hole three-quarters with the soil removed from the hole. Water around the hole to settle the soil. If planting a B&B tree, remove the wire or cord holding the burlap to the trunk and then fold the burlap down to expose the upper sides of the root ball.

Step 6

Finish backfilling the hole and water again. Add more soil if needed to level out the surface. Use any remaining soil to create a berm around the perimeter of hole about 2 inches high and wide. The berm creates a saucer effect to help direct water to the roots of the tree.

Step 7

Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch, like bark chips, over the worked area. The mulch will help to hold moisture and block weed growth.

Step 8

Water every seven to 10 days during the first month if there is no rain. After the first month, reduce watering to twice a month into fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic matter (optional)
  • Mulch


  • North Caroline State University Coop Extension Service: Red Maple
  • Purdue University Coop Extension: Planting & Transplanting Landscape Trees and Shrubs (pg 2)
Keywords: planting trees, red maple, shade trees

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas is a certified e-learning specialist and certified Microsoft Office specialist. She has written web content, technical documents and course material for a decade. Raskauskas now writes how-to's, product reviews and general topics published on several websites, including Demand Studios.