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Hi Linda - I have a 9 year old Japanese maple. This year the bark of the trunk is starting to peel. I broke off a piece and saw beetle-like bugs. There weren't a ton of them, they may have been there just for shade? I love my maple. What should I do? Anna
Hi Anna, the photos you sent show a tree that is
planted too deeply into the soil. The trunk (stem) of
the tree should flare out away from the base of the
tree. What I see is a trunk that has no flare and has
straight sides coming up out of the soil. The base of
the tree has been smothering and rotting under the
mulch that was piled up around the base of the tree
and that has caused the protective bark to peel off.
Unfortunately, this tree is not going to survive. You can
buy some time by carefully digging around the base
of the tree down to where you see the root flare. You
may have to dig down a bit. If you come across any
roots growing above the root flare, carefully cut them
off back at the stem. Leave the stem and root flare
exposed. This will help the stem to dry out.
any excess mulch you have around the tree and put down about 1" of new mulch around the base
of the tree (2-3' wide) without touching the tree. This will help keep the roots cool and moist. Do
not remove any loose bark. Let it fall off naturally. The tree will try to repair itself by covering the
wound with new wood, but it will take a long time (years). Also, do not apply any type of tar or
paint over the wound where the bark is missing. I would also suggest you check the mulch level
on the other trees on your property and do the same thing. Good Luck.
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.