Educated, Experienced & Excited About What We Do!

Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional

I have a 9 year old Japanese maple. This year the bark of the trunk is starting to peel. I broke of 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


Japanese Maple Bark Damage Hi Anna,
The photos you sent me show a tree that was planted too deeply into the soil. At the proper planting depth, the trunk (stem) of the tree should flae out away from the base of the tree. What I see is a trunk that has no flae and has straight sides coming up out of the soil (like a telephone pole). The base of the tree has been smothered and is rotting under the mulch that was piled up around the base of the tree which has caused the protective bark to peel of. 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 flae. You may have to dig down a bit. If you come across any roots growing above the root flae, carefully cut them of back at the stem. Leave the stem and root flae exposed. This will help the stem to dry out. Remove 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 of 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.

View As PDF

View a PDF representation of this article To view a PDF of this article, please click here.


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.


Enter a search term above, or select a category below to browse the available articles.
Lecture Series

Our weekly "Ask The Landscape Professional" series is expanding to include video lectures on various topics. To watch some of our lectures online, please click here.

Submit Your Question

Do you have a question to Ask The Landscape Professional? Click here to contact us and send us your question!

The Official Landscape Company of Mystic Seaport

Official Landscape Company of Mystic Seaport.