Top 10 Tips For Growing Maple Trees For Syrup


Previously we’ve talked about bees and why keeping the honey would be a great benefit to your family.

Now we want to talk about maple trees and how keeping the syrup will benefit your family as well.

The tips for growing maple trees include knowing which maple tree is best for you, digging the hole the correct way, planting the maple tree in full sun, planting more than one maple tree at least 25 feet apart, not planting the maple trees near driveways or sidewalks, making sure the soil has the right conditions to grow maple trees, knowing how much to water your trees, being familiar with the diseases and pests that might bother your maple tree, pruning your maple tree while it is growing, and using fertilizer on your tree.

Read on to find out more about maple trees.

Know which maple tree is best for you

There are a few different types of maple trees and it is important to know which tree is the best for your area and climate.

The different types are as follows:

  • Sugar maple

The most popular of the maple trees for getting sap and syrup, hence the name.

The sugar maple tolerates moderate shade and moist soil.

It does not tolerate salt well, so as long as your soil doesn’t have an overabundance of salt in it, you should be fine.

It works the best in hardiness zones 3-8, which is most of the United States, except for a few areas in the most southern part of the states.

  • Red maple

Much like the sugar maple, but a little less sweet than the sugar maple.

Instead of having to use 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, you need 50 gallons to do the same.

The tree will grow to 40 or 50 feet and will grow up to a third of an inch a year.

The red maple survives in a wider range of conditions compared to the sugar maple.

  • Silver maple

The silver maple is close to what the red maple is, giving sweet sap.

But the tree is also of the larger variety.

Silver maples are meant more for large areas for growth instead of a regular yard.

If you have a yard where you can put the silver maple in the corner away from everything else, then the silver maple is for you.

  • Box elder

The box elder is half as sweet as the sugar maple, but it also yields twice as much sap.

It is also ready to tap within five to six years of planting, which is considerably younger than the rest of the maples.

There are also other maple trees that give you sap and they are as follows:

  • Bigleaf maple
  • Norway maple
  • Black maple

Dig the hole the correct way

There is a right way and a wrong way to dig a hole for a tree.

According to the University of Kentucky:

Digging large planting holes is one of the best things that you can do for a newly transplanted tree or shrub. Two or three times the diameter of the soilball is usually large enough.  However, the harder it is to dig the planting hole, the more important it is to dig it even wider than the minimum of two or three times the diameter of the soilball.

Digging a large planting hole allows you to break up the soil so that there is an abundance of cracks between clods for new roots to grow. This helps oxygen and water infiltrate and move through the soil for uptake by roots. This results in more roots and ultimately more shoot growth than anything else you can do.

Digging wide planting holes allows you to not only break up the soil so that roots can grow away from the trunk, it allows you to find and discard rocks and building materials that may have been buried during construction. These materials obstruct root growth in the backfill and reduce the ability of roots to anchor the tree in wind.

https://ufi.ca.uky.edu/treetalk/tree-planting-hole

With a maple tree, it is the same as described above.

You will want to dig the hole at least 2 feet wider than the soil ball for the tree.

The hole should be just as deep, if not deeper, than the soil ball.

The deeper and wider you dig, the easier it will be for the maple tree to grow out and down.

This means that your tree might grow faster.

Plant the maple tree in full sun

Maple trees like sun, so make sure you are planting your trees in an area that can get it.

A maple tree should average at least 6 hours of sun each day for it to grow to its appropriate height and width.

You might be able to get away with it being in partial shade, but if at all possible, full sun is the best.

So if it is at all possible, put them in a place in your yard where there is nothing else around.

This way, you can guarantee the maple tree is going to get absolutely all the shade that it needs.

As you’ll see in the next section, you will want to plant multiple maple trees at least 25 feet apart.

This will help with the maple tree getting full sun as well.

Plant more than one maple tree at least 25 feet apart

So, when you are out taking care of one tree, why not plant a second or third maple tree in your yard.

This seems to make sense that if it takes so many gallons to make one gallon of syrup that you might as well have more than one tree to give you sap.

Maple trees can end up being pretty big trees, so it also makes sense that if you are going to have more than one, that you plant maple trees at least 25 feet apart.

This is somewhat because of how high and wide the tops of the maple trees can get, but it is also because of how wide the root systems can get.

You see, a root system for a maple tree can get as wide as 25 feet.

So it is a good idea to keep the maple trees a good distance away from each other so their roots aren’t too congested in the same place.

Otherwise, your maple trees aren’t going to grow too stable.

Don’t plant the maple trees near driveways or sidewalks

Speaking of the root systems of a maple tree, they can do some damage.

If you’ve ever walked down a sidewalk that has a tree planted right next to it, you know what this is about.

Because the root system for the maple tree can get so big if you plant it too close to driveways or sidewalks it could end up ruining the concrete.

Or in any case, it will take the concrete out of the ground and move it up higher, making your sidewalk or driveway up higher from than ground than you really want.

So it is a good idea to keep your maple trees far away from sidewalks or driveways.

That’s why I would mostly suggest putting maple trees in the far end of your backyard, away from anything that it could end up hurting with its roots.

Make sure the soil has the right conditions to grow maple trees

It is very important to make sure your soil has the right conditions for growing your maple trees.

For example, maple trees will not grow very well in soil that is high in salt.

You can do a soil test to see if your soil has too much salt in it.

And if you find it does have too much salt, there is a remedy for that.

According to SFGate.com:

Amending salty soils with sulfur, lime or calcium can help by removing or replacing the sodium in the soil. A soil test is needed to determine how much calcium, sulfur or lime to add. Sulfur amendments are used for soils that have free calcium carbonates. 

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/remediations-soil-becomes-salty-38732.html

So you can add sulfur, lime, or calcium to your soil to get rid of the salt from the soil.

Please do this with caution, since some of these solutions can hurt bare skin.

Know how much to water your trees

Your maple trees need quite a bit of water throughout the spring and summer seasons to stay alive.

Maple trees need an average of 11 gallons a week to make sure they stay hydrated enough.

This means that if your area isn’t getting enough rain, you will need to make sure you are watering it on a regular basis.

And that means you are doing one of two things.

First, you can deep water your trees.

Deep watering means you are spending a good portion of time one day watering your trees.

Usually, you would turn the hose on, leave it at the base of the tree, and then come back a few hours later to put the hose on another tree.

Water comes pretty fast out of a hose, but not all of it is going to go into the tree.

Which is why you leave the hose there for a few hours.

This could give the tree enough water to last a week or two.

The second option is to have a sprinkler system set up that can water the tree for you.

Using this solution, you might have to water the tree a few times a week to make sure they get enough water.

Keep an eye out for leaf scorch, which is when the leaves start to show a brown color on them, almost looking like they are being burned.

This means the tree isn’t getting enough water and you need to water it some more.

Be familiar with the diseases and pests that might bother your maple tree

The list of diseases for a maple tree is pretty extensive.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Verticillium wilt
  • Sapstreak
  • Root rot
  • Tar spot
  • Anthracnose
  • Powdery mildew
  • Lichen
  • Leaf scorch

There are so many things that can be said about these many diseases.

If you want to read up more on how to recognize these diseases and how to treat them, go here.

Prune your maple tree while it is growing

Usually, there isn’t too much you need to do with the maple tree as far as pruning.

But you are going to want to keep an eye out for branches that are dying or dead.

If you come across these branches, go ahead and feel free to prune them off.

You can do this by hand or you can purchase pruning shears here.

That way, the tree can concentrate on other branches instead of trying to keep an already dead branch alive.

How to use fertilizer on your tree

Just like pruning, you don’t usually have to worry about fertilizing your tree too much.

Typically the only time you would need to worry about fertilizing is if your soil doesn’t have all the nutrients that it needs.

So just like with the salt, you can have your soil tested to see what it might be lacking.

If you find that your soil is missing some of the key nutrients that your maple tree would need then fertilizer is a great option for you.

Summary

A maple tree is a great resource for your family that can give you sap year after year if you take care of it.

Make sure to give them plenty of space when you plant them, don’t plant them near driveways or sidewalks, make sure your soil doesn’t contain too much salt, water your trees enough, and make sure they get enough sun.

And as you take care of your maples, they will give back to you.

And instead of paying for expensive syrup at the store, you can make it all yourself.

Enjoy.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

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