Root moisture is extremely important to the survival rate of red maples. Well-watered maples can withstand insect pest attacks and resist scorch.
Watering Maple Trees
Before planting a red maple, spread out the root ball and sprinkle the roots with water. Be sure not to saturate the roots. Planting in moist soil promotes root growth. Once in the ground, water again to help the soil settle around the roots. Water weekly with at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water. One inch per square foot of water equals 0.62 gallons. Watering during the first year is crucial to survival.
Build a water ring around the edge of the hole. Water rings encourage outer growth by directing moisture to the perimeter roots. Create a ring of soil several inches high and 2 feet in diameter. One inch of water soaks about 4 inches deep into clay soil. After two years a tree is considered established and the water ring may be leveled.
Summer months require increased watering. Newly-planted maples lose an average of 1/2 gallon of water per day on hot summer days. Check soil moisture at a depth of 10 to 12 inches. If soil seems dry, water slowly, allowing the water to penetrate at least 2 feet deep. On established maples 95 percent of the root system extends beyond the branches. Water the entire area beneath the canopy.
Scorch occurs when leaves lose more water than the tree is absorbing from the soil-transpiration. Symptoms are light brown dead areas on the perimeter of the leaves or between the leaf veins. Usually scorch appears first on the southern sun-exposed side and quickly spreads throughout the tree. Water heavily for several weeks to prevent further scorch damage.
Deep water maples twice a year--once in the fall just as the leaves change color and again as soon as the ground thaws in the spring. Deep watering reaches all roots, which encourages deeper growth. Frequent shallow watering causes root growth at the top of the soil thus increasing root exposure to wind and sun.