rugged96_gw

Maple Tree Damage or Bugs

Rugged96
June 6, 2011

Hi everyone

i've finally created an account after years of browsing.

I need some expert help. I have two October Glory maples planted 3 years ago in my front yard and both have trunk damage. I purchased them from a local nursery and have taken care to the best of my knowledge. Shortly after they were planted I noticed that the bark was damaged. It eventually flaked off and the 'damage' that you see now. The trees leaf out and look great with the exception of this trunk damage. I asked a tree service (arborist) to tell me if I should remove the tree but they insist it's okay. I even asked a different nursery if I should cut them down and replace and they said if the tree looks healthy than they would leave them.

Lastly, after I mulched this year I noticed a pile of white gooey stuff accumulating on the top of the mulch. Anyone know what this is.

thanks again!

Rugged in Tennessee

Comments (58)

  • Rugged96

    I will take another picture tomorrow...as for the planting, I thought it was planted high but I don't really know. I do know that the 'tissue' damage was there when it was planted. I only noticed it when they unwrapped the burlap after it was in the ground.

  • brandon7 TN_zone

    "I only noticed it when they unwrapped the burlap after it was in the ground."

    That is exactly when I would have said, "OK boys, put that one back in your truck and bring me a good one. I'll give you one more chance."

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  • brandon7 TN_zone

    ps...

    j0nd03, there are no "stickies" on GardenWeb, only the search function. It would be nice if GW had a help section with the information about how to post a picture included, but I think the chances of getting that are only slightly better than the chances of Ed McMahon coming back from the dead and awarding me a large cash prize (I was always so hopeful when he was still alive).

  • Rugged96

    I agree....I never should have let them plant it but I wasn't that smart back then (or now either). I had no idea that the peeling off bark would turn into what i have now. I'm just praying things keep healing. After 3 + years they kept growing and looking good and now I'd hate to find out they are to far gone since they are so much bigger than what I could buy and replant.

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    who painted the wound???

    if you ... dont do it again ..

    ken

  • j0nd03

    Rugged:

    That tree definitely looks "telephone poled" and in need of trunk excavation in order to find the flare. These trees put on caliper ridiculously fast, so if it is indeed healing and growing fine (as it appears to be) you can take measurements of the wound throughout this year and next that will give you a good idea of how it's going.

    Brandon:

    No stickies is one of several flaws with this forum set up. I would equate your McMahon analogy to my frequent daydreams of winning the Powerball lottery although I have never purchased a ticket

  • Rugged96

    thank you all for the advice. I will post pictures soon of the root flare so I can make sure that it is okay. I did not paint it; the guy from the tree service that came to look at it a few years ago sprayed pruning spray on it. It's mostly all worn off now.

    ahh, if only i knew then what i know now....

  • Rugged96

    have a gone down far enough? also, what about all the roots that were cut as i moved mulch and soil away?

    {{gwi:377244}}

    {{gwi:377245}}

  • arktrees

    Those small roots are adventitious roots that is a response to being planted to deep (I just dealt with allot of this from some container plants). Losing those should not cause significant harm. It's hard to say for sure from the pictures, but it looks to me you need to go deeper to find the root flare.

    Arktrees

  • j0nd03

    Wow yeah like Ark said, you need to go further down. You might consider waiting until leaf drop to go much further for tree health.

  • Rugged96

    this is very helpful but scaring the crap out of me. I have 4 new (not naturally growing) trees planted in my yard over the past 3 years by reputable local nurseries. The other 2 (dogwood and maple) I think are planted much higher (deeper). Half the root balls seem to be above grade and no root flares are visible.

    Why in the world would they do this ?

  • ademink

    just to try to clarify that we are on the same page with lingo to avoid confusion....

    planted high(er) means that the rootball is planted above grade....thus generally the flare is above grade also.

    deep(er) means that the rootball is planted below grade...thus normally meaning the flare is below grade also.

    hope this makes sense....?

  • arktrees

    Very possible they just hire out the cheapest persons to do the planting and do nothing in way of training. IMHO, start digging on all of them until you find the root flare, then stop. I would not wait till fall. One of the container trees I just went through this a few days ago, was planted about 6" too deep in the container. Had maybe 2-3" of root zone left on the bottom when I was done, along with making many vertical cuts for circling roots on the remaining rootball, planted it in a larger air pruning pot, and plopped it in FULL sun with day temps in the 90's. So far so good. Did the same with and October Glory at the same time, except it was about 4" too deep, and it's been fine so far. At least dig on one side until you can stick your fingers down to the root flare so that you know how much further you have to go.

    Arktrees

  • Rugged96

    Yes, thanks for clarifying.

    In my case all 4 of my planted trees are planted high (above grade). Also, in all cases the root flare is completely covered by at least 3-4 inches of soil. I'll get started on the excavation. I also know my landscaper over does it with the mulching around the base. Hopefully, that makes it not so bad.

    I thought it was okay to plant the root ball above grade especially in compact soil but how high is too high? Does that logic change if it's on a steep slope?

  • ademink

    Ahhh...so planted high but mounded over the ball/trunk. I'm tracking with you.

    Much better to plant high (and often preferred...esp in clay soil)...never good to go deep. On a slope sometimes you have to make-do. When i've done slopes, i plant the side that is in the higher side of the hill "properly" and then the lower side of the rootball will often be showing. I then shove soil up on the rootball as much as possible and put a flat stone over it to help hold in the soil until the tree can get established.

    i dont know if verbally just painted an adequate pic or not

  • Rugged96

    @ademink...you described it perfectly and actually that is exactly how my dogwood is planted save for the part that the soil is mounded a bit high over the root ball.

    The soil around here is quite compact and the amount of clay varies (not as bad as some places I've seen in KY/TN) so it makes sense that they planted high.

    Now off to do some digging.

  • j0nd03

    If you decide to continue with the root pruning, make sure you keep it adequately (but not overly) watered for the rest of the year. Waiting would be less stressful on a tree that is trying to heal that big wound.

    Ark is very knowledgeable, and if you follow his advice, you should be ok. He has much more experience with trees than I do.

    When a tree is planted above grade, that is preferred. That way if extra soil was piled on top of the rootball in the nursery, it can be safely removed followed by root pruning and the result will put the tree near grade and hopefully still a little higher. It also helps with drainage issues.

    When the tree is planted below grade, start over by replanting it after exposing the true root flare if that is possible. Only bad things happen over time when most trees are planted below grade.

  • arktrees

    j0nd03, don't go giving me too much credit, as I've made plenty of bone head moves.

    Rugged, I have to plant most everything high as I have clay as well, though it is much much better than a few years ago. Plenty of our trees were planted basically half way out of the ground, with soil sloped down to existing grade. Still the flare was at the proper height (once I learned my lesson and how to use a tape measure to get it right most every time). BTW, the container trees I spoke of were $7.49 ea, so I was allot more willing to take some chances to sort out the root system for the long term. I was trying to illustrate that they may be able to take more abuse than you expect, and not to overly worry. One suggestion on the compaction. Mulch the grass clippings into the lawn, and don't try for a mono-culture, along with careful use of select compounds. I have a bermuda lawn, with some weeds, but still looks good. The multiple species, and mulching will increase diversity in the soil, and you will end up with insect, worms, nematodes, ants etc etc all doing their thing, and ultimately turning over and enriching the soil making it much more plant friendly. Ours drains much much better than 4 years ago, much richer soil, and the neighbors constantly ask questions as to what I'm doing, as our lawn looks good. In it I have ants, earthworms, beetles, etc etc. from mostly bare compacted clay a few years ago.

    Arktrees

  • Rugged96

    thanks again everyone.

    I did some preliminary digging around the biggest mound in my yard. take a look.

    {{gwi:377247}}

  • ademink

    holy smokes...well...that explains a lot!!!

  • j0nd03

    No words... I have no words to adequately explain that horror...

    And after seeing that I would definitely not stop there, remove all that mess pronto!

    Just to satisfy my curiosity, how many if any adventitious roots did you find coming directly off of the trunk and entering the surrounding soil and what size were they?

    Thanks,

    John

  • Dan _Staley (5b Sunset 2B AHS 7)

    If anyone wonders why Dan's Default #1 exists, send them to this thread for an example.

    Dan

  • j0nd03

    lol even my wife said "What the h*** is that?" when she saw the pic

  • Rugged96

    I agree...WOW!

    I had no idea it was this bad when I started digging either. Fortunately (can I even say that), most of this was mulch and there were NO adventitious roots on the side I started with. Also, the tree has only been in the ground just over a year and maybe that helped. Tomorrow when I have more time I'll get the wheelbarrow out and really go to town.

    This tree is clearly much worse than the ones with the wounds but I'm less concerned since the tree doesn't seem harmed...yet.

  • arktrees

    You might consider reporting that nursery to the BBB. But first let them know just how unhappy you are with them on the slim chance that they are actually a good nursery, and you just got the monkey with the shovel before they got rid of them. Be sure to take a print of what you showed us. If they do not respond well, try to blame you, or just say "it survived didn't it", then I would probable report them. Won't help you any, but just maybe someone will check them out first before going there. Oh and be sure to tell all your friends, and neighbors who might consider planting in the future.

    JMHO
    Arktrees

  • Rugged96

    @arktrees - thank you for your advice, I will consider it. And to think that this tree was from one of the more reputable nurseries that I used after the first nursery planted those wounded trees I first asked about earlier in the tread.

    once I excavate how concerned should I be for any long term risks?

  • Dan _Staley (5b Sunset 2B AHS 7)

    lol even my wife said "What the h*** is that?" when she saw the pic

    Mine too, another urban forester. Traiiiiiiin wreeeeeeck.

    Dan

  • arktrees

    I will someone else with more experience answer that one. I will say this though, being a red maple that can tolerate allot of water, and hence O2 deprivation, you probable have about the best chance as you could get. Not to mention Red Maples are just tough. If it were Sugar Maple, then I would say gonner, and get started looking for a replacement. Hopefully the dogwood will be much better. Definitely check it as well.

    Arktrees

  • whaas_5a

    Welcome to the nursery trade epidemic of planting too deeply (their fields as well as on site).

    These trees had the same issue with the only difference that I knew what to look for and corrected the issue. I learned quickly after one experience like yours. You will now plant every tree yourself and ensure you find the rootflare prior to planting.

    Ginkgo 'Autumn Gold' - 5" too deep
    {{gwi:377248}}

    Cornus mas - Roughly 5" too deep
    {{gwi:377249}}

    Quercus x 'Long' - Roughly 7" too deep
    {{gwi:377257}}

    Ginkgo 'Princeton Sentry' - This one takes the cake. 8" too deep
    {{gwi:377262}}

  • lisanti07028

    That is unbelievable.

  • j0nd03

    I posted a link to this topic on a sadist forum.

    I wonder if they will get it...

  • j0nd03

    whoops meant sadism... too much Law and Order: SVU for me lately

  • brandon7 TN_zone

    Rugged,

    As serious of an issue as this is, you might also consider commenting, here and in the Tennessee Forum, on which nursery put your trees in, if you don't get a very positive response when you confront the nursery's owner. With minor issues or disagreements, I don't think "outing" is necessarily a good thing, but in this case, people need to know. These numbskulls don't know what they heck they are doing, at all.

    I got ticked at a "reputable" local nursery the other day on a job I was consulting on. They were planting large trees and planting them poorly, but it was nothing compared to what you are showing.

  • Rugged96

    @Brandon7
    I will think about posting over there as well. I'm uneasy about calling out the nursery right now until I consider a couple of items. First while the tree is obviously covered with entirely too much soil much of the mound was created by mulch which I can't blame on the nursery since my landscape guy mulched twice since that tree was planted. Also, I'd rather show them a picture first and see what they say. I need to drive over that way one of these days.

    The other, older maples with the wound are a different story. I've already steered friends and neighbors away from them and also given the nursery ample chances to fix/replace the trees 3 years ago.

    I've learned my lesson and I'm just at a point that I want to protect my investments.

  • brandon7 TN_zone

    I didn't meant to call them out before talking to them. I just meant if they didn't respond well....and the landscape guy's contribution may change things completely (well considerably, anyway). I thought the mulch was shoveled on when the tree was planted. Sounds like you really need to watch that landscape guy of yours.

  • Rugged96

    Thanks again. I know there is plenty of blame to go around ...me included but I just want to fix it. Funny thing is my landscape guy used to work for the nursery that put the trees in. No wonder he didn't think anything was wrong

  • arktrees

    Been saying for a couple of years "any monkey with a shovel and a bag of mulch can call themselves as 'landscaper'" since there is no legal requirement for "landscaper". Hopefully it's because of stupid crap like this that your "landscaper" doesn't work for that nursery anymore. If your lucky, that's why they don't work for that nursery anymore. Sounds like you need to find someone with some BASIC understanding of horticulture.

    Arktrees

  • Rugged96

    i did some quick digging just now but wanted to check...am I far enough down?

    {{gwi:377267}}

    {{gwi:377269}}

  • whaas_5a

    Yes, but maybe go a little further on the right (1st pic)to ensure there aren't any girdling issues.

  • Rugged96

    OKay, next dilemma. I have been clearing away soil and mulch from the base of the tree and came across two criss-crossed roots on the original larger October Glory. What should I do with these roots and what damage did I do to the tree because I accidentally cut one similar to it on the other side.

    {{gwi:377271}}

    {{gwi:377277}}

  • arktrees

    IMHO, Cut them (crossing/circling roots), and don't worry about it. Those don't look to be nearly large enough to account for a significant portion of the root system. As stated above, I just hacked the crap out of some container plants, probable removed/cut about 80% of the root mass in one case, and they are doing fine so far in larger root pruning fabric containers, full sun in the low 90's.

    Arktrees

  • Rugged96

    Great, thanks!! I've done 2 and have 2 left but it's too damn hot out there (mid 90s).

    Can anyone share the exact proper way to mulch now. I understand that I should keep it away from the trunk but how deep, etc? Do I create a 'moat' effect?

    Also, i have automatic sprinklers, is that enough or should i run a hose to these trees?

  • mustard_seeds

    no - do not make a moat. Keep the mulch wide and low - the link has a picture of mulch volcano similar to what you had before, and a picture of "happy tree" with the mulch away from the flare and spread out to the drip line.

    Good job clearing that soil in this heat- wow how many inches down did you go?

    Rachel

    Here is a link that might be useful: tree mulching

  • brandon7 TN_zone

    First, let me say that my computer graphics abilities are somewhere near first grade level (no offense to 1st graders intended), but here is a graphic that will give you some idea of how I mulch around individual trees. The brown area is the mulch. It is about 4" to 4.5' inches at the highest point (near the outer edge of the mulch) and tappers down to pretty much nothing near the trunk. The red is the backfill soil (or is that my face after posting this graphic?), and the dashed lines are supposed to represent the trunk.

    {{gwi:377279}}

  • Rugged96

    well, I have done 3 of my 4 trees. There was 8, 10 and 12 inches of excess soil mounded up like a volcano on each of them. I think I carted off about 60 cubic feet of soil today. I should have picked a better day because the 95 degree heat kicked my butt.

    Tomorrow I'll work on my dogwood which is planted on a pretty steep slope.

    here are some pictures-the depth perception is deceiving. If something looks wrong please tell me. I have a little more fine tuning to do tomorrow but I'd like to believe I'm a world better than 2 days ago. Thank you to all for your help.

    {{gwi:377286}}

    {{gwi:377288}}

    {{gwi:377289}}

  • brandon7 TN_zone

    Very good work!

  • lisanti07028

    You saved your trees - way to go.

  • ademink

    great job!!!! that was hard work in wicked weather - well done!

    ps @ j0n re: sadist/SVU comment...rofl

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