Landscaping With Japanese Maples


Japanese maple trees are attractive in the home landscape because of their bright red leaf color and moderate height. A Japanese maple tree reaches a height and spread of 20 feet and grows best in USDA Hardiness zones 5 through 8. Proper maintenance and care during the summer growing season will promote growth and leaf color for an eye-appealing landscape feature. Japanese maple trees continue to offer beauty in the landscape during the fall months when the leaves turn to a color of yellow and purple.

Step 1

Select to plant the Japanese maple tree in an area of the landscape that receives full sunlight and has a well-draining soil. A minimum of six hours' direct sunlight will assist the tree in maintaining the bright-red leaf color that is desirable for a landscape feature.

Step 2

Test the soil pH prior to planting the Japanese maple to verify the soil is acidic and has a pH of 3.7 to 6.5 for proper growth and leaf color in the landscape. Lower the pH number by working ground rock sulfur into the soil and letting it rest for two weeks before planting.

Step 3

Plant the Japanese maple in a hole that is slightly deeper and two times wider than the root ball. Work equal amount of organic compost into the removed soil to increase the water draining properties and nutrient value around the tree. Set the tree into the hole and pack the amended soil around the root ball.

Step 4

Water the Japanese maple tree during periods of dry weather when the weekly rainfall is less than one inch. Place a 5-gallon bucket with a hole drilled in the bottom lip and filled with water under the tree canopy to water the soil.

Step 5

Place 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch over the root ball of the Japanese maple, leaving a 6-inch gap between the tree trunk and start of the mulch. This will assist the tree in keeping the soil moist during the summer growing season.

Step 6

Fertilize a Japanese maple tree in early spring by applying a balanced tree fertilizer according to the package instructions for the size of tree. This will assist the tree is remaining healthy in the landscape.

Step 7

Prune the Japanese maple tree each fall or early spring to remove dead or damaged branches as a means of improving the visual appeal in the landscape. Remove branches that rub against each other or are growing in the wrong direction to promote an appealing canopy structure.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH test
  • Ground rock sulfur
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Organic mulch
  • Balanced tree fertilizer
  • Pruning clipper


  • University of Florida: Acer palmatum Japanese Maple
  • Arbor Day Foundation: Japanese Red Maple
  • Tree Help: Japanese Maple Tree
Keywords: landscape Japanese maple, grow Japanese maple, plant Japanese maple

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.