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Maples Acer - Growing, Propagation, Identification, Appreciation and more!

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  #1  
Old December 26th, 2010, 12:04 PM
Gnome Gnome is offline
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I planted a Ueno Yama in my lawn in the fall of 2007. In summer 2009, I extended a flower bed to encompass the maple and (I know...) built up the soil around the maple, trying to keep it in a bit of a well. Basically, I was worried about lifting it, and so did not.

Well, the leaves have scorched every summer (probably because I have it in full sun?), and I don't get fall colour (probably because by then, all the leaves are crisp). Apart from that it appears to be doing okay - although the growth is minimal; new shoots typically showing around the end of the summer.

I feel I should have lifted this tree and was wondering if anyone had any similar experience. Should I lift this tree now? It is at least 3 years in the ground already. Are they fussy, or would they tolerate the move easily.

I've included a few photos of the base of the tree taken Dec.19th - it's hard to see in these photos but the tree is in about a 2-3 inch well. I also included a photo of the tree in spring 2008.
Thanks for any suggestions.
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Last edited by maf; December 26th, 2010 at 04:31 PM. Reason: added photos from duplicate post
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  #2  
Old December 26th, 2010, 04:12 PM
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maf maf is offline
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Re: Lifting an Acer palmatum

This is a difficult one to reply to. The best thing would have been to raise your plant up at the time the soil level was raised, as you suspected. If the level has only been raised 2-3 inches your plant might be alright long term as it is, and it may already have (partially) adapted to the new conditions. It kind of depends on the drainage; if the 2-3 inch well ever has standing water then you would be advised to raise the plant.

The other question is the full sun exposure. I don't grow 'Ueno yama' but other ones I have grown with a similar pale colouration usually burn or scorch to varying extents in full hot sun. It is hard to tell from afar if the scorch you see is due to the sun exposure or potential bad root condition caused by the raised soil level. Maybe someone can comment as to sun tolerance of this cultivar.

If you decide to move, or simply lift and raise this maple, as long as you get a large enough rootball it will not harm a healthy specimen. Might be hard work, but if you have a few strong helpers it should go smoothly.

Hope that helps.
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Old December 26th, 2010, 06:15 PM
Gnome Gnome is offline
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Re: Lifting an Acer palmatum

Thanks for the reply Maf. I do appreciate your thoughts on this.
It is difficult to decide what to do...and I agree; it will be hard work to get a large enough root ball to raise this tree now. I go out and look at it every day now, wondering how to proceed. I may just end up expanding the bed a little and reducing the height of the soil surrounding the tree. Although, there is quite a lot of fibrous root near the surface now.
In terms of drainage, I can safely say that drainage is good and water never sits in that well. So, that's one good thing. To deal with the sun, I planted an acer griseum relatively close by so I hope to have some shade in a few years.
The more I think about it, the more I think I will leave it be with the above-noted changes to the bed... and as you mentioned, it may be adapting to the situation.
Thanks again.
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  #4  
Old December 28th, 2010, 02:15 PM
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winterhaven winterhaven is offline
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Lifting an Acer palmatum

If the tree is routinely getting scorched then I would think it's routinely getting stressed. Move it once more, it may be a little stressful for the tree (likely more stressful for you) but it will only be the once rather than routinely. And it's a good time right now to be moving - I just relocated a few the weekend before last.

And you'd be surprised at the size of trees you can move. I got a Fireglow with over an eight inch caliper last winter that had been in someone's yard for many years. It took a backhoe to get it out but it transplanted just fine. You tree isn't nearly that size. With the help of one man, I've moved trees your size many times with good results (and I'm a girl).

Should you decide to proceed, this is how I have moved my trees (with a helper):

Dig a trench around the rootball until you get to the bottom of it and can get a shovel under the tree
Get the tree loose in its hole and gently shake dirt off the roots at the edge to reduce weight (with your fingers)
Slope the side of the hole from which you'll be dragging the tree
Get a tarp and roll (not fold) from one edge until 1/2 the tarp is rolled up
Tilt the tree (this is where help is really useful)
Shove the rolled portion of the tarp under the tree, being sure to get past the midline of the rootball
Tilt the tree the other direction (remember to thank the helper) and unroll the tarp
Now the two of you can use the tarp to pull the tree out of the hole and the tarp will help keep the rootball intact. Further, you can drag the tree across a lot of lawn to get to the next hole.

Good luck.

Edit:
PS - I have two Ueno yama and I wouldn't suggest planting this cultivar in full sun. They're kind of tricky to place because you want them to get enough sun to color properly but not so much they scorch. With my larger one, I had some die back in the crown from over exposure one year (I'd moved to a new home and improperly estimated the amount of sun). Then, at my current home I put it where it got too little sun and it didn't color to my satisfaction. Coincidentally, it's one of the ones that got moved in the last few weeks. Mine isn't as tall as yours, thanks to the dieback and hubby's help (don't ask), but I'd estimate the caliper is larger. And the tree originally grew in a deep pot for numerous years so the rootball is really deep and heavy. But we got it done, if we could, so can you. If you want to, that is.

Last edited by winterhaven; December 30th, 2010 at 01:35 PM. Reason: Fixed missing text
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  #5  
Old December 28th, 2010, 03:53 PM
amazingmaples amazingmaples is offline
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Re: Lifting an Acer palmatum

Trees like Ueno yama are very difficult to have in full sun and not have leaf burn and in the case where your tree is tall, it makes it more of an issue. They seem to reach a height and just do not grow much taller. I leave mine in full sun since I like the looks of the tree in its location durning the spring time when the tree has its outstanding color but my tree always have leaf burn by the end of the year.

Moving japanese maples is very easy with the right tools. A straight edged shovel is the most important tool with a nice sharp blade. Pruners, loopers and saws do help. I am always amazed at how fast the pros dig these trees out of the ground and how small of a rootball they can take. Important in digging out trees is to not disturb the soil from where you decide to cut the rootball into the tree. With the shovel cut a line around the tree and dig out away from the tree. One major flaw people do is to try and and dig under the tree and pry it up before that have cut the trench around the tree. In most cases with japanese maples, you will not find strong tap roots under the tree unless it is was in a place where it needed to search down for water so the main roots which need to be cut will be found in the first foot or so of digging down.
While digging down, I have seen the pros tend to throw the shovel "straight down" into the ground chopping the roots as they go around the tree. When they hit a bigger root, they then dig on each side of it uncovering it enough so they can cut it.
Once they have dug to where the roots are starting to go down, they start cuting under the tree. The rootball should start to look like a golf ball on a tee. Still throwing the shovel, they cut the roots going down and keep digging out away from the tree.
All the while, it is not good to try and wiggle the tree out, it is best to leave it alone. At one point you will find the tree does feel like it can be tipped over, at this time "slowly push" the tree in on direction and while doing this, cut the roots going down. (hopefully there is not major tap root) which requires to be dug around and cut. Depending on the size of the tree, you may need to slowly push it in diferent directions cutting the root as you push it in a new direction (do not twist or shake the tree). If you slowly cut the bottom roots off the tree will soon be free to be moved. As joyce said, using the burlap or tarp is great. With two people you can hold the corners of the burlap and pull the tree out of the hole.
The key I have seen is picking a cut line and digging straight down and away from the tree and while not to pry the tree out until the whole rootball has been cut.
I get many trees which have been dug out of the fields that are 2" to 3" caliper and they have rootballs which are only 20" to 30" in diameter.

Last edited by maf; December 30th, 2010 at 08:19 AM. Reason: Fixed missing text
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  #6  
Old December 28th, 2010, 05:03 PM
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maf maf is offline
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Re: Lifting an Acer palmatum

Quote:
Originally Posted by amazingmaples View Post
I get many trees which have been dug out of the fields that are 2" to 3" caliper and they have rootballs which are only 20" to 30" in diameter.
Is that a good rule of thumb that can be applied to most sizes of Japanese maple? ie. 10 inches of rootball for every inch of caliper?

There isn't a FAQ for moving in-ground Japanese maples on the forum as of yet, these last two posts might make a good start if winterhaven and Charlie are willing to let them be used as the basis.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 08:31 PM
amazingmaples amazingmaples is offline
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Re: Lifting an Acer palmatum

I will ask my guy who digs trees out daily if they have a company policy as to where they cut the rootball. Odviously the bigger the rootball the safer but it may not be practical. I have seen trees dug which are 8" caliper and the rootball has not been much more than about 36" in diameter and the tree had no issues the next season. The big Red Emperor I have which is about 6" caliper only had a rootball about 38" diameter and it came from out of a nursery field where they could use tractors to move it so there was no reason to restrict the size as the other 8" caliper tree.
Now Joyce's 8" caliper Fireglow had about 4 foot diameter rootball since we had a tractor to get it out of the ground and into the truck.
Now the crazy fact is I dug out a 3" caliper japanese maple from an overgrown japanese garden and the rootball was only 10" in diameter and the tree lived. I have found that the rootstock of these trees is pretty darn strong and can take a lot of abuse "in the more mature tree".
What I have seen from watching the diggers is they try and find the spot where the roots tend to be small and they can just throw down the shovel into the ground and chop the roots with no effort. They find the spot by tapping the shovel into the ground around the tree.
There are a couple shovels with 14" long "blades" which make digging out trees 100 times easier. When you watch the guys dig out trees with these shovels you can just laugh, they can pop a tree out of the ground in minutes which most people believe can not be moves.
The digging out of the tree is not usually what causes damage. Every bit as important is how the tree is cared for after it has been dug. Issues might be found in the trees new location so it is very imortant to take extra care for a tree when it has been relocated. I saw a massicure of trees, the trees had been professionally dug with large rootballs but the trees were planted on property with a high water table that must have flooded out these stressed trees.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 10:57 AM
Gnome Gnome is offline
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Re: Lifting an Acer palmatum

Thanks to 'winterhaven' and 'amazingmaples' for your great advice. I will try to absorb all of this while trying to figure out how to proceed.
I still do love it in the spot it's in for that amazing Spring colour. I was really a little worried about having messed up on the planting depth (and was really thinking about leaving it in the same spot, but correcting [?] the planting depth). I am still considering whether or not to raise it or just level out the soil around it, and then leave the tree to (hopefully) be shaded in a few years by the Paperbark maple I planted near it, partly for that purpose.
The real problem in terms of sun exposure is that there is no shady spot in the yard for me to move it to. Sounds like I will either have to put up with some scorch or replace it.
Thanks again everybody - I am fairly new to this forum, but am always amazed to be able to connect with so many gurus of the plant world, literally from around the planet. This is truly amazing!
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Old December 29th, 2010, 01:43 PM
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maf maf is offline
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Re: Lifting an Acer palmatum

Gnome, how bad is the sunscorch? Do the leaves actually die and fall off mid summer or just look a little crispy by the end of the season? If the tree is otherwise in good health, but looks a little sunburnt by end of summer, it should be ok to leave it where it is. The fact that the fibrous roots have moved into the raised soil shows the plant has adjusted its root growth to take account of the raised soil, 2 or 3 inches change in level is not too big a deal for it to deal with. The problem if you decide to remove some of this topsoil is that the root destruction may cause some shock to the plant. An alternative way of coping with the well in the soil would be to gradually fill it in over time, about half or 3/4 of an inch per year would be a safe rate that would allow the bark to adjust to the changes as the tree grows.

Also which side of the 'Ueno yama' is the Acer griseum going to be planted? If it will shade it from afternoon sun that will help most with the sunburn.

I am going to copy the more general advice on moving Japanese maples to a new thread for those who wish to continue the discussion in that direction (leaving the original posts in place). Here is the link. That way this discussion can stay on the original topic.

[Edit: My bad. Temporary glitch - all posts in this thread should now be back to how they were originally.]

Last edited by maf; December 30th, 2010 at 08:20 AM.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 08:27 PM
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Re: Lifting an Acer palmatum

Hi maf,
I do get some leaf-drop with the sunscorch (less than 1/4 of the foliage) - most of it stays ok on the tree, albeit a bit 'crispy'; and of course, this more or less destroys the fall colour - leaves look brown rather than change colour. Now I will say that I have seen a few leaves turn a gourgeous reddish-orange; but we're talking about a handful of leaves here.
I think you're right about the tree adapting by filling in the topsoil with fibrous root and about the fact that removal of this topsoil may send the tree into stress. Brushing aside some of the topsoil is almost impossible now without cutting back a lot of the fibrous root... I agree - it is staying put. Aside from the scorch, it appears to be in good health and I do fear damaging it if I move it. I will monitor the root area as it grows and determine if/how to proceed with the changes you suggest.

The Acer griseum is planted south-west of the Ueno Yama; so hopefully will serve it's purpose in time.

I worry too much sometimes; but your advice is much appreciated. Thank you.
Wouldn't it be great to go back in time...?
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