Japanese Maple trees add brilliant color to the landscape of a home or business. The trees grow from 8 to 15 feet tall, according to Clemson University Cooperative Extension. Plant the bush or tree in containers, patio planters, in a shrub border or as single lawn features. The ornamental tree is vulnerable to winter kill due to ice, heavy snow and frost.
Branch damage mainly takes place during severe storms or early spring weather fluctuations. Temperatures begin to warm up and the tree buds out during spring. Leaves emerge and begin to grow through spring and summer. When winter weather settles back in, leaves can be covered with ice from heavy frost or snow. The weight of ice and snow can break small twigs and branches.
Japanese maple trees and shrubs do well when planted in the fall. The tree roots will grow and establish themselves in the soil. If the tree is planted late in the fall or an unusually early winter weather pattern sets in, the tree may be damaged. The young tree may even die if the roots are not firmly established. The planting should be winterized to protect it against freezing weather. Make sure to plant trees out of range of any snow or ice that will fall from a roof.
Be sure to water the tree or shrub well in the late summer and throughout the fall until the ground freezes. Mulch around the area, leaving a 3-inch opening to allow air to circulate around the trunk. Shredded bark mulch protects the roots growing near the surface. The mulch should be be spread 3- to 4- inches deep. Cover small trees to protect them from harsh winter weather. Remove any dead leaves that are still clinging to the tree to prevent a possible ice build-up on them.
Winter kill destroys leaves, twigs and branches of Japanese maple trees and bushes. When it is obvious that the tree is coated with ice or snow, it is important to take pressure off of the branches right away. Carefully remove any snow weighing any tree or bush branches down to the ground. Leave any iced area to thaw during sunny days. Ice-laden branches may bend or break, causing more damage if they are manipulated in any way.
Hand strip or cut damaged leaves from a tree that has been marred during a blast of cold weather after the new growth of leaves emerge. Trim away broken tree branches with pruning shears.