maple placement dilema

ttonk(OH 6A)February 28, 2013

Hi all,

There is swale between my backyard and the neighbors. It seldom has standing water but the soil there is muddy. More so than the rest of the yard. I can imagine there could be standing water if it rains really heavy.

I have maples 10 ft away from the swale/property line. Now a number of people suggested me that I move it closer to the swale, like 6ft from it, so that I'd have enough space for a patio.
Should I move them? Would maples do okay if the soil's wet? Or should I just make the patio shorter (then "the patio would look like a bowling alley," quoting my dear realtor.)

What would be other concerns with planting maples on the wet area? I was told that the maples have been planted higher to avoid water damage. So the tree give me the look of mulch volcano but it really isn't the mulch volcano. It's just a top of the root ball. I just imagine that, if a maple is not planted deeper, I may have more surface roots. Is this a valid concern? Or should I aim to achieve the same ballistic look surrounding the root flare and plant them in a similar manner?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I just imagine that, if a maple is not planted deeper, I may have more surface roots. Is this a valid concern?

==>> no.. your presumption is wrong.. its a maple.. you will eventually have surface roots .. because its a maple.. it doesnt matter how you plant it ...

planting half the ball is recommended in heavy clay soil.. is that what is below your surface???

a picture. would sure help us understand ... short of a few more thousand words.. i dont understand the bowling ally comment.. unless your yard is 36 inches wide ... and how can you have multiple maples.. i am just confused ...

but what gets me the most.. how long have those trees been there??/ ... are you fixing something that isnt broken??.. if they are coping.. who are you to worry about it all.. trees put their roots where it is advantageous ... and they can deal with a lot.. especially the weed known as maple .. lol ...
the only issue is usually the planting.. and it sounds like your WERE planted PROPERLY ...



BTW.. why is your real estate agent giving landscape advice???? if i had to choose between a maple and a pleasant patio.. that maple would be gone in a heartbeat ... focus man ... woman.. whatever.. lol ... you cant sit comfortably in the tree and enjoy life.. like you can on a nice sized patio ... [well.. when the tree gets big enough.. you can.. but it wont be comfortable .. lol]

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:14PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

hahaha got it. a patio over a maple.
The backyard is approx 30' X 70' . Now with three maples which are planed along the 70' side (in parallel with swale), I basically have 20' X 70' yard.
They have been here for a few months. They were planted over the last fall and early winter. Yes, I tend to try to fix things that are not broken. Oh..all the worries. My husband lives in the same house with the same yard, and he is living a happier life by not worrying about anything. not a single
sorry no pix today. will have to take some.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:56PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Red maple, Acer rubrum, is called swamp maple some places. I plopped one generic one in the front center low spot of my yard. It seems to be doing well enough.

If ya pick a named cultivar pay attention to the crosses. You may lose skme of the moisture tolerance.

Personally I would cut down a tree if ya need to, build a patio, and plant a bald cypress (or even dawn redwood!) out by the wet area. I figure you already have maples to look at and variety is good.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:19PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

Took this after rain. See the little swale and how the mulch ring gets wet, too. I'm moving it even closer to the swale and a bit nervous. But this should be fine?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 3:05PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

1. I can't imagine a situation where moving the tree as you have shown would make ANY difference. If your patio is really going to be right where the maple is now, then it will be WAY WAY WAY too close to the tree anyway.

2. Putting 1. aside for the moment, the roots of your maple are almost sure to destroy any in-ground/concrete patio in a matter of just a few years. If you do want the tree near your patio, you might consider a raised one (on pillars...short ones...but my mind is wondering and I can't think of the proper name for them right now).

3. Where is your tree's root flare? Are you sure that isn't a giant brown bamboo cane sticking out of the ground? The lack of lower branches on that relatively lanky trunk coupled with the lack of a visible root flare and what appears to possibly be a mulch volcano, looks like problems to me.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 7:43PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Move it, if for no other reason than to find the root flare.

How far are you moving it again? The scale escapes me.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:08PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

It is 10ft from the swale. Moving it by 4ft.
It's about 5-6ft away from the future patio now and I'm trying to make it 10ft away. The patio will need to be slightly raised as the yard has a slope. Yes the root flare....I knew something about the tree was bothering me.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 3:42PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

How big is this tree going to get? What percentage of total spread are you planning on moving it?

What material is the patio going to be made from? Under the circumstances, I'd do dry-laid blocks, and plan on relaying them from time to time. Like once a decade or so. Then run the thing right up to the tree.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 6:53PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

So this AB maple will be moved this week. But I get this jitters; that I should replace it with some other types of tree. Ken kept saying maples are not for backyard lawn. Looking around, no one has maples in their backyards here. But I'm simply incapable of making quick decisions so that maple will stay. haha

@mad_gallica : patio will be made of paver stones (made of concrete?) Just the regular paver stones that everyone uses. I'll have about 10' distance b/w the patio and the maples.

This post was edited by ttonk on Tue, Apr 23, 13 at 12:26

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:22PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

If you would recommend an oak for a lawn (but wet & muddy area), that is fool-proof and easy to find from a decent sized nursery here in Ohio (something I can pick up today), what would that be?
I like those oval shaped oaks that retain leaves in the winter. Maybe I should ditch the AB maple and have one oak. I don't have space for more trees. Please give me some names that I can start the search with. :-) I

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 2:08PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii)
Nuttall Oak (Quercus texana)

Both fast growing and should have nice fall color. Have seen both available locally.

White Oak (Quercus alba): Slower growing but a great great tree. Should have good fall color. 2"-2.5" caliper are available locally

Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor): Should be available, nice tree but not much for the fall color.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 2:32PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

Thanks!!! My search begins.
Would they be superior choices to AB maple in the backyard lawn? Not about personal preference on maples or oaks, but about problems/issues/care etc...

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 2:55PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Besides the patio issue, main reason you don't want an AB maple in that location, is that the surface roots can become problematic on slopes. You could have stabilization and erosion issues in the future.

Otherwise the tree is just fine for a backyard shade tree.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 3:00PM
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ttonk(OH 6A) the jitters intensify.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 4:20PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

Well,,,I'm convinced (after talking to several people yesterday and today) that I should not have any large tree on that spot, but rather have smaller (understory?) tree. So my oak dream has to wait..
Out of two maples I have, I'll replace one with a smaller tree. But I have to decide today as to which tree, as they are coming in to transplant those maples tomorrow.
They suggested a fringe tree, crabapple (but what kind?), or magnolia jane or ann. But they say they can bring any tree as long as they are available so I should give two or three names today. Please help???? This is a wet spot in the 60+' alley between two houses, mine in the east and a neighbor's in the west. So the south is clear but it doesn't get much of morning sun and doesn't get much of late afternoon sun either. Only the mid-day sun.

I can of course get rid of both maples and have two small trees. Still thinking about that, too..

Oh tomorrow would be a big big day! I'll plant the dogwood on the front bed, and will have at least one more small tree.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 2:19PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

Think I'll just get a jane magnolia. I'm thinking too much. A pic deleted but if you saw it, any advice is welcomed! :p

This post was edited by ttonk on Wed, Apr 24, 13 at 15:19

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 2:29PM
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I can't think of a quicker way to kill a magnolia tree than to plant it in a wet swale. Sweet bay might be the only exception.

Who are these 'they' who are doing all the suggesting? LOL

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 3:53PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

My hardscaping contractor who will transplant maples tomorrow. He said he'd raise the bed to avoid standing water and all, but did mention that no trees except for AB maple (lol) and river birch will do very well. Other suggestions (which are restricted by the plant availability) include "Minnesota strain redbud" "rising sun redbud" and "white fringe tree", the latter being his favorite tree.. During the conversation, the autumn...ginkgo was mentioned, but I realize gingko is another large tree? won't do well on a wet swale. I'm lost again :-)

This post was edited by ttonk on Wed, Apr 24, 13 at 16:24

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 4:20PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I thought magnolia was a native squish plant. The Betty I picked up several years ago at a local plant sale is planted maybe 18" above the water table, and doing quite well.

As somebody who owns a swamp, there are varying degrees of wet. The worst is permanently standing water. That requires the hard core swamp plants like pussy willow, Rosa palustris, buttonbush and things like that. Then comes not too far above the water table where the wet tolerant trees come in. Last is the seasonal/slow draining after rain places. Those don't even qualify as squish in my mind, and it looks like that is what you have. I have a cherry tree in a similar spot, and while it is dying now, it took it a good 60 years to do so.

The nasty part about swales is that people think they are wet, but in most of the country, they dry out totally and completely during the summer. So the plants that can't take the conditions are often dying of drought.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 5:04PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

What are the restrictions and can you post a pic?

Without going back I don't understand why a "large" tree won't work.

Of your plants, Gingko is #1 and #2 is Rising Sun.

A smaller tree like Jane or Fringe tree seem strange in the open from the perspectivve that is shown.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:07PM
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The poster has referred to this area as 'wet' isn't my assumption, just because it's a swale. Judging by the water around the base of the maple tree......., I'm also assuming there may be percolation problems on her lot. No......magnolias are NOT squish plants, if you mean are they able to tolerate wet feet. They do like moist soil, but that's not a deterrent to ground aeration. Poorly draining clay soils are. I have a small magnolia collection, and almost gave up on them until I found how to site them on Ohio Clay soils and that means they're all (other than my grandiflora and sweet bay) on slopes where the water soaked into the soil has a chance to move downhill by gravity...... and they're thriving. It would be one of my last choices for this location if there is any question of drainage. BTW, magnolias have unusual root systems, and a good deal of the roots on a cultivar like yours lay in the upper foot near the surface. They are considered top-rooting trees. The redbud the 'hardscape' contractor recommended is also not tolerant of poor drainage situations. He planted the maples in such a way he considered the drainage to be suspect, then he recomends trees one should not plant such areas? As a nurseryman, I deferred from making hardscape was not my bag if you get my drift.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:43PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

The restriction is that my yard is 30ft deep, neighbors yards are 30' deep. If the tree grows to the width of 20' that's 1/3 of my yard and others. If it becomes 40' wide, that's 2/3 of my yard and other's. I cannot plant in the middle of my yard as I'm having a patio that covers about 2/3 of the depth of the yard and there's about 3' between the patio and the tree...I miscalculated. Even if I move maples, there will be about 7' distance not 10' and seems to close to me..

I planted a maple because that is of course not a ridiculous thing to do and wanted to screen the view a bit, but I'm having second thoughts. Again, this is me being me and hubby doesn't understand why I'm worried about a tree that is not dying.

I'm posting a pic but please allow me to delete this at some point. :-)

This post was edited by ttonk on Thu, Apr 25, 13 at 16:22

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:53PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

Oh he did not plant the maple. I have no intention to blame any of my ---scapers. I think they give general advice but, at the end of the day, they try to get me what I insist and try to make it work. And that's why I try to educate myself so that I won't "insist" on something stupid.

This post was edited by ttonk on Wed, Apr 24, 13 at 21:01

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:57PM
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It's OK to put consideration into tree placement. In fact too many people don't put enough into it. ;-) Burb lots can be challenging where the houses are large but the lots aren't. Houses that size ask for larger trees to keep them in scale and in older urban residential areas folks just planted them, and they are lovely but do cause issues when they have issues. I am assuming the house is the one behind you? It does look like the lots slope downward into a general low area. Have you been there long enough to know if it does in fact stay mucky or wet for extended periods? If it does, really, try to plant trees tolerant of poor drainage.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 9:17PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

That swale is usually drained within 24 hours after it rains heavily.

Yes, you're seeing my neighbor's house behind mine and that's way I want to delete the picture soon...:p
I just don't have a picture taken toward my house & the trees.

They have steeper slope than I do. I thought my original goal was softening the view by adding trees but all the small trees only screen the slope not their house. That's why I came up with a maple. Now the maple is about 15' and it screens their patio and door. So I thought if I have a small tree and they grow to their maximum height (15-20), I'll achieve the same goal..

This post was edited by ttonk on Wed, Apr 24, 13 at 21:33

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 9:31PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Much better perspective!

Taxodium distichum Mickelson is my vote.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:25PM
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You initially said the soil there is 'muddy'. Does it stay that way long after rains and the standing water dissipates?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 2:02AM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

Whaas, thanks! You recommended that tree once before, i remember. If i can have a large tree, i will keep the larger maple there. Emotionally having a hard time let go. The first ever tree i planted.. I mean transplanted, but still the first!

I thought it's muddy because there are standing water spots on each side of the lot and lawn died there and the soil is muddy there. Here lawn is doing fine but still the ohio clay.

This post was edited by ttonk on Thu, Apr 25, 13 at 9:21

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 9:19AM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

I couldn't sleep well last night worrying about which tree should come and go. lol
So they are arriving like in one hour with magnolia and eastern redbud, which means I still have an hour to worry about all the things.
Now a proud owner of 6 trees (7 including a street tree) on my stamp-sized yard.

This post was edited by ttonk on Mon, Sep 9, 13 at 15:27

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 12:10PM
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