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How to Plant Silver Maple Trees

maple image by Pavel Vlasov from

Silver Maple trees (Acer Sacharinum) are a fast growing tree planted for shade. In its native range, which is the Eastern United States where the soils are deep, moist and acidic, a Silver Maple can live to 120 years. However, in urban areas the tree is expected to live less than 75 years because of drought and pollution. The average size of a Silver Maple is about 50 feet tall by 30 feet wide. The Silver Maple tree is notoriously weak-wooded and is easily damaged in storms. The root system is shallow and fibrous and is known to damage sewer pipes and well as basement walls.

Find a location for your Silver Maple tree where it can grow without being crowded by other trees. If you seek continuous shade, plant a number of trees 15 to 20 feet apart so the canopies will touch. Otherwise, plant farther apart so each tree can be observed individually.

Dig the planting holes three times the width of the tree to create loose soil for root development. Dig deep enough that the trees are planted the same level as in their containers. Container trees can be planted any time of the year. However, the survival rate is greatly increased if they are planted in the fall in the southern half of the United States. Plant trees in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked, in the northern United States. If planting trees that are recently dug from the ground, seek a soil line at the base of the tree that indicates the depth at which the tree was previously planted.

Place your Silver Maple trees in the prepared holes. Pull out any roots that are encircling the root ball. That way the roots will grow away from the root ball rather than around it. A root encircling the root ball can eventually strangle the tree by cutting off nutrients and water to the upper part of the tree. Slowly add water to the soil as you place the soil around the root system of the tree. This will create a slushy mix of soil and water. This forces the soil to form a seal around the roots so there are no air pockets left after planting.

Add a one-inch layer of mulch around the root base of the trees after they are planted. This will conserve moisture and keep weeds under control. Because mildew or fungus can spread from the mulch to the newly planted trees, leave a one-inch space between the tree trunks and the mulch.

Water the trees every 10 to 12 days the first year. Deeply soak the root base. Water only if there is no appreciable rain during this period. Allow a small stream of water from the water hose to run over the root base of each tree for about an hour to soak the roots thoroughly.

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