How to Plant Red Japanese Maple Trees


For a compact yard tree that's visually striking, consider a red Japanese maple. Japanese red maple (Acer palmatum) grows well in dappled shade and its red leaves add visual interest to your home. The trees grow in hardiness zones 5 to 8. Place the tree in a location that offers wind protection to prevent it from becoming scorched. Plant Japanese red maple trees from containers either in the spring or in the fall.

Step 1

Choose a location that offers your Japanese maple tree room to mature. North Carolina State University notes that the trees can reach 25 feet in height and width. Japanese maples enjoy part shade.

Step 2

Dig a hole twice as wide and as deep as the container holding your maple sapling. Remove rocks, weeds or roots from the hole. Then take up the grass in a 3-foot circle around the hole. You'll mulch this area later; this helps the soil retain moisture, which nurtures the tree.

Step 3

Remove your Japanese maple from its container. Massage the root ball between your hands to break it apart. Separate any tangled or circled roots since these can restrict the flow of water to the tree and choke it.

Step 4

Place the maple tree in the prepared hole and ensure it's vertically straight and sitting at the same depth as it was planted in the container. Then fill in the hole with soil.

Step 5

Construct a watering berm around your newly planted maple tree. Bring extra soil from other parts of the yard if necessary. Build a berm that's 4 inches tall and thick to create a shallow watering basin. Water the newly planted tree by filling the basin.

Step 6

Mulch the 3-foot circle around the base of the tree with at least 2 inches of mulch or pine straw.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • North Carolina State University: Japanese Maple
  • Texas A&M: Planting a Tree
Keywords: tree planting, Japanese red maple, planting Japanese maple

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.