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Silver maple decline?

Posted by jobblygardner 6 (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 16, 13 at 15:14

I'm just seeing if there is anything I can do to help an old silver maple out. The house was built in 1966, so it can’t be older than that. I've seen old photos. Some changes around it have happened gradually over the last five years, and I'm worried they might stress the big guy out. In 2008 my neighbor installed a fence next to the tree. I continued the fence in 2009, digging more holes for posts. In 2009 my neighbor also installed a sandstone patio next to the tree. In 2011 I made a bed around it. Didn't add that much dirt, as the yard slopes so the ground was naturally lower in front of it. Then in 2012 I built a shed on deck blocks (still needs doors) and a little paver patio next to it. I get that it's not ideal but I'm on a small city lot. If I stay here for life I'm sure I'll regret it, however that's an issue for another time. It's also next to another neighbor’s garage, but the garage was there before the tree so I gather it adapted to it.

Myself, the neighbor, and tree are all fighting for space on small city lots. I've never had a yard or trees before so I am ignorant. However I am now trying to be much more conscious of the tree and learn. I did notice some branch dieback. Not huge branches, but from what I understand decline in trees is gradual. If there is something I can do now I'd like to now.

It appears healthy to me. Canopy seems thick, plenty of helicopters every spring and leaves in fall. I'm constantly pruning offshoots from the base to as far up as I can reach. Any help/opinions would be appreciated. Thank you for looking at the pictures below, reading, and your time.

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 photo tree_zps90019b37.jpg

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 photo bed_zps94624e4c.jpg

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 photo sandstone_patio_zpsb1ddf589.jpg
Sandstone Patio

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RE: Silver maple decline?

I have no fence or shed, and am having the same problem with one in a row of four silver maples planted (I think) within five years of yours. It's strangely the only one that has bladder gall too. The only info I've been able to find is that die-back and failure to thrive happen some times for no identifiable reason. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will chime in.

RE: Silver maple decline?

Do you see strips of dead bark leading up to the branches that are dying? The first thing that springs to mind would be the increased soil depth, but it seems like the root flare is still reasonably above the soil level. Compaction could also be the culprit. I've heard of people aerating soil by driving holes in it, but I've never seen it done. You might get up on a ladder and look for insect damage.
One other thing to look for is dark spots in the wood of the dead branches. If you find these spots, you should sterilize your pruners immediately. This could be a sign of verticillium wilt, a fungus that colonizes the interior of the tree, blocking water and nutrients from getting to the branches. If this is the case, the only thing I've heard of helping to slow the decline is regular waterings with compost tea. I don't mean to be alarmist. I've seen maples planted too deep that look like they could suffering from verticillium, but it is a possibility.

best of luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Verticillium wilt

RE: Silver maple decline?

on second glance, the dead branches don't look black, so it's unlikely that it's verticillium, but it wouldn't hurt to check.

RE: Silver maple decline?

Hello, yes I was going to rent a soil aerator in the fall when the soil is moister. A lot of activity around the tree, including getting my truck stuck twice. I also bought some maple fertilizer that involves drilling down 6 inches to apply. I was going to do that in the spring when it rains more. However with all the rain lately I can probably aerate and fertilize now.

I was also thinking of cutting down the trunk that extends over the shed. Any thoughts on cutting a major trunk off a sliver maple?? Thanks.

RE: Silver maple decline?

I think the aeration and fertilization is a good idea. Regarding removing a substantial trunk of the tree, I would recommend getting in touch with a certified arborist.

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