How to Grow a Maple Tree

Maple trees give us maple syrup and they are hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9. Depending on the variety, they can grow to heights of 10 to 75 feet. In the fall, people usually flock to the areas where maple trees are prevalent because they have a spectacular leaf show. The leaves change into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. If you want to plant and grow this delightful tree in your yard, this article will help you through.

Prepare the Holes

Find an area that has full sun to partial shade. Remove the weeds inside a 4-foot circle. You will need to dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball, but keep the depth the same as the root ball. After the hole is dug, scuff the sides and bottom with the edge of your shovel. By loosening the dirt in this way, it allows the roots to penetrate beyond the dug sides of the hole.

Fill the hole with water. This provides moisture deep into the soil so the roots will grow into the ground. Allow the water to drain away naturally.

Add Compost

Your maple tree will need nutrients to grow, so add 4 inches of well-rotted compost to the soil you removed from the hole. The compost helps to lighten the soil for better drainage.

Remove the Maple Tree From the Pot

Remove the maple tree from its container. Lay the pot on its side and grasp the tree by the trunk close to the root ball. Gently pull to remove the tree. If it does not come out easily, cut the container with a utility knife. Be careful so you don’t cut into the root ball.

With the edge of your trowel or with your fingers, loosen the soil around the root ball. If the roots are visible, gently tease them away from the sides of the root ball with your finger. If you don’t do this, the roots will continue to grow around the root ball and slowly choke the tree to death.

Plant the Maple Tree

Place the root ball in the center of the hole. The trunk of the tree should be standing straight. Make sure that the top of the root ball is level with the ground. If the root ball is higher than the surrounding ground, remove some of the soil at the bottom of the hole.

Fill in the hole until it is half full with amended soil. Firm the soil down with your hands to remove air pockets. Fill the rest of the hole with soil and tamp it down with your hands, feet or the back of you shovel.

Water the Maple Tree

When the tree is planted, water the tree with your water hose. Turn the water pressure on to a slow flow so the water doesn’t run across the ground or form a large hole. Provide 1.5 inches of water every week during the first year of growing unless your area has had adequate rainfall. Watch for signs of overwatering. If the leaves are light green or drooping, cut back on watering.


Lay a 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree, starting 1 to 2 inches away from the trunk of the tree. When mulch is places up against the bark, it can lead to rot or disease. Mulch not only helps the soil retain moisture it also helps control the weeds from growing.


In the spring when the tree is coming out of dormancy, give it some 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer. You can feed the maple tree once a month during the summer. Always read and follow the directions on the type of fertilizer you choose for proper amounts and times to feed your tree.


“A Gardener’s Guide to Growing Maples”; James G. S. Harris; 2005

“American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants”; Christopher Brickell; 2004

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