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Anna, Teacher, writer, biologist
Category: General
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I live in PA,been growing a maple tree for 25 years. It is

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I live in PA,been growing a maple tree for 25 years. It is shelter for my birds and feeders, in the last 3 yrs, it has alot of dead branches and very few leaves..... Every year I hope, in the spring, that it would come back and be healthy, but right now I only count about 25 buds on it so far. Is there anything I can do to help ?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

I'm sorry to hear that your maple isn't healthy.Some additional information may help me figure out what is wrong.

Are the dead leaves and dieback all over the tree or only in certain spots?

Check the bark and wood carefully. Are there any spots that look damp and dark, holes, oozing sap, or peeling bark?

Has any digging or construction been done near the tree?

Has there been adequate rainfall over the past four years?

Do the remaining leaves have any spots or deformities?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The dead leaves and dieback are all over the tree. There wasn't any construction, but there were 5 or 6 pine trees removed about 30 yards away. My neighbor has been having a lawn service spray their lawn for bugs,grubs,and weeds the same amount of time that my tree started going downhill !!
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back shortly.

Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for waiting. The symptoms you have described often point to a condition called maple decline. It is common throughout the eastern United States. It isn't one specific disease, but the results are the small leaves and dying branches you've described. Many times, there is a combination of factors that cause the decline. Lawn chemicals can be one factor. The removal of the pine trees could have had an effect if the maple's roots were disturbed in any way during the removal. Other contributing factors can be poor soil aeration, poor drainage, salt damage from salt applied to streets in the winter, high summer temperatures, drought, soil compaction, paving close to the tree, insect infestation, verticillium wilt, and root rot. Decline is often a result of several of these factors at once. Chemicals alone can kill a tree if it receives a heavy enough dose, but it is more common for there to be a combination of factors. Maple decline is often fatal.

Your best chance of saving the tree would be to consult a certified arborist. The arborist can examine your tree and the site to determine which combination of factors may be at play. You can find an arborist here:

If your budget doesn't allow an arborist, your local County Extension Agent is another option. The agent will help you figure out what is wrong, and what should be done, but will not do any of the needed treatments. This is a government program and there is no charge for their services. To find the nearest agent, go to this website, click on your state, then click on your county.

If you want to attempt to save the tree without help, start with an application of a good fertilizer that provides all the necessary nutrients. Scotts' Osmocote is one. It is available in garden centers and online. Make sure the tree has adequate water through any dry spells. If you see an insect infestation, use an appropriate pesticide. To be honest, most homeowners don't have success on their own. I do recommend that you call an arborist or your County Extension Agent. Even professionals will sometimes say that nothing can be done.

If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. i wish you success in saving your tree.


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