Keep or Replace ?Sugar Maple

drrich2(6)March 25, 2012

Wife & I moved into our home on a 1.4 acre lot Feb. 2011. Got some trees already on the lot. Some aren't in the best condition & I'm considering replacing. We're zone 6b, southwestern KY, clay soil, down slope on a hill, & in spring & fall rainy weathers can leave our backyard saturated for a few days, while summer can be hot & sunny with temp.s to 100 degrees & it may not rain a few weeks sometimes.

In our backyard, close enough to the house it'd someday send some limbs over the garage/bonus room, is a maybe 7' tall maple. It's either red or sugar maple, I believe. I suspect it was damaged in a tornado that swept through a couple of years or more back. The leader had forked, and that fork was cut, so it looked like the tree had an arm up going 'V for victory.' The forks were dead, so last summer I cut the leader/trunk off down below the fork. Well, then the part of the leader that was alive died further down below my cut. Annoying.

The upshot is, this tree is probably planted a bit too deep (I don't think majorly, but some), the soil at the base tends to be saturated a few days in really rainy weather, there's obvious damage under the bark (which strangely isn't loose, but there are cracks & I can see some calus formation underneath on part of the trunk), and the 'side limbs' (non-leaders, whatever you call them) are coming off the sides, and one of them will have to be the new leader.

If this is a sugar maple, it's going to be big, and instead of a vertical leader, it's going to do a lot of weight bearing on side-branches that come off down low. And we live in a windy area. Plus I don't know how well-drained sugar maple soil has to be.

Would consider replacing with a Black Gum, since for this spot I'm not fixated on fast growth (though it wouldn't bother me), and a tree with real hard wood might be a good choice near a house. Plus if I understand correctly, Black Gums can handle soil that stays wet quite awhile. I'd probably plant above grade 2 or 3 inches & make a sloping mound.

Would consider Shantung maple, but it's one weakness is said to be water logged soil. Not sure how long the soil needs to stay wet clay to harm one.

So, am I being paranoid for wanting to get rid of it, silly for keeping it this long, or what?

Richard.

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j0nd03

This tree could have potentially had pretty interesting form from the ascending branches. But the second pic looks just like the other two you posted.

REPLACE

You probably want to check all of the trees planted at your (beautiful) house and check for a visible root flare on all of them.

John

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 9:32PM
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wisconsitom

Yeah, looks to be planted too deep and some decay process underway. Not a good long-term prospect. Dr, I'd think about shape, size and growth form of any replacement plant before I'd think about suitability for conditions. Decide whether you want a tall-growing shade tree, a narrow columnar tree of some sort, or a low-growing ornamental tree. Then......once that fundamental decision has been made, go through your choices that would, in addition, handle the soil/moisture/exposure conditions there.

+oM

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 9:39PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Both black gum (nyssa sylvatica) and sweet gum are favorites of mine.

Nyssa aquatica (water tupelo I think in common terms) is even a more water loving version of black gum.

To me standing water means plant bald cypress or water tupelo.

Swampy red maple or either nyssa.

If you are on a hill I bet sugar maple, red maple or nyssa sylvatica will be fine.

Oh, and that poor tree in your pic has suffered both wind damage and some kind of trunk defect maybe from being planted too deep. I vote for replacement

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 9:43PM
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drrich2(6)

Thanks, guys. I'll address a couple of points and then point out what I will likely replace it with.

"Decide whether you want a tall-growing shade tree, a narrow columnar tree of some sort, or a low-growing ornamental tree."

Ideally, a medium to tall shade tree, from the size of a Shantung Maple up to a Red or maybe Sugar Maple, in size. But for this location, needs to be hard wooded/tough, due to somewhat near the house. I don't like the look of narrow/columnar deciduous trees.

"To me standing water means plant bald cypress or water tupelo."

The soil can be saturated a few days in Spring, or other times of year, but last summer when it was so hot the ground cracked open at places in our backyard. There's usually not standing water at this point, but of course 2 or more days soaking rain, downhill & clay soil, and it can be very wet for quite awhile.

I just put in an order of a Blackgum 5 gallon 'Smart Pot' tree from Sooner Farms online. I figure if Blackgum tends to be slow-growing and form a taproot, the Smart Pot approach might be well worthwhile to help it get established quickly & start growing sooner. I doubt Water Tupelo would be easy to find with 'root pruning' technique used (could be wrong about that), and I figure Blackgum will be stronger & more breakage resistant than Red or Sugar Maple (could be wrong about that, too!).

Richard.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 10:27PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Blackgum sounds like it's a good choice for the spot. Another good option would have been Nuttall Oak Quercus texana. They originate from a floodplain environment and deal with periods of flooding frequently. Many of them also have very nice fall coloration, so you might keep that in mind if you have the need for a similar location. They can also have very nice fall color (see below).

Arktrees

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 11:37PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

clay soil, down slope on a hill, & in spring & fall rainy weathers can leave our backyard saturated for a few days, while summer can be hot & sunny with temp.s to 100 degrees & it may not rain a few weeks sometimes.

===>>> this is not enough to choose a tree for a swamp .. the lush green of the lawn indicates it is NOT swampy ... otherwise grass would fail ...

as to the tree.. if it were just the top.. it could be pruned.. and live a long useful life ...

but with the bark breaking.. the planting depth.. etc.. get rid of it ...

its the prior owners nightmare.. be done with it.. and create your own .. lol ..

IMHO.. you are way over thinking the water issue ... and as proof .. what are the peeps around you growing???? ... and the hill itself.. means the water is moving .... not standing ... a few days.. or even a week or two ... is not an issue ... again.. IMHO .../

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: this is where swamp trees are needed.. and this aint your yard ...

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:13AM
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