Maple Tree Is Dying – What To Do?

Like other trees, maple trees can experience health issues due to improper maintenance, environmental issues, and pests. If you suspect your maple tree may be dying, you may be wondering what you can do, if anything, to revive the dying tree. We have researched steps to take if you find your maple tree in a state of ill-health. In this post, we will cover them.

The methods needed to revitalize your maple tree will depend on the reasons for its state of stress. Common methods for revitalization include applying mulch and fertilizer as well as watering the tree if it is dehydrated.

If your tree is suffering from a fungal infection, you'll need to treat the infection first and then remove any disease roots, branches, and leaves from the tree. If the tree is suffering from an invasive pest infestation, this will need to be addressed.

Maple trees are one of the most popular trees planted in the United States. An unhealthy maple tree can eventually die if a vigorous revitalization regimen is not implemented to help save the tree. Continue reading to learn how to determine when your maple tree is unhealthy and how to potentially save it.

A brilliant maple tree in a front yard of a home, Maple Tree Is Dying - What To Do?

Reviving Your Maple Tree

Before attempting to revitalize your tree, it's best to take a close look at the tree's signs of illness. This means inspecting the branches, leaves, and soil to determine the main causes of concern. With the right tools and techniques, you may be able to restore life to your dying maple tree in a matter of weeks. Let's take a look at some of the common reasons why maple trees may start to die.

Red maple tree

Tree Pests

All trees are prone to issues with pests. The most common pest of the maple tree or scale bugs and aphids. Typically, these investigations will not harm a maple tree, but in some cases, they can have a severe impact on the tree, causing leaves to turn brown and eventually fall off. If this continues, the tree's bark may eventually start to split as the pests continue to breed and plant larvae. The best way to eliminate this issue is to spray the infected branches and leaves with neem oil or another insecticide.

It's also a good idea to prune the infected branches so that the pests cannot reinfect the tree. However, these pests are known to find their way back to the tree the next season, so it's best to have a seasonal or a year-round pest infestation plan.

Find neem oil on Amazon.

Mineral Deficiencies

If your maple tree lacks any essential nutrients and minerals, this can also cause the tree to enter a state of ill health. The most visible sign of this will be the leaves turning yellow. This is usually the result of the tree lacking and zinc, nitrogen, manganese, or iron. If left untreated, these types of deficiencies can kill the tree, but they can also be fixed with the right foliar spray or fertilizer. The first thing to do in this case is to test the pH of the soil surrounding the tree.

To do this, dig a 4 to 5-inch hole around the tree's base and collect a sample from the bottom of the hole (try to get it from the bottom). The soil's pH should fall between 5.6 and 7. Outside of this range, it may be receiving too little nutrients, or the pH may be too high for the tree. If the soil is too acidic, you can use limescale to help lower the acidity. Alkaline soil needs sulfur to assist with raising the acidity.

Root Rot

Maple trees can also succumb to root rot if it is not treated in a short time frame. This fungal infection can cause what will seem to be a very abrupt discoloring of the tree's leaves and a die-back of its crown overall. You may notice that the foliage starts to wither or appear smaller than normal, and overall the tree will appear to have lost its vigor.

You may also see mushrooms appear on the tree trunk at the end of the summer season. Root rot will need to be addressed immediately, and the tree will need to undergo pruning and soil replacement to get rid of all infected soil, branches, and leaves. You'll also need to plant fresh soil and ensure that it has proper drainage.

Improper watering

Unsurprisingly, improper watering can also cause a maple tree to experience severe health issues. Over time, if your tree receives too much water, it may suffer from root rot. The best way to treat overwatering problems is to refrain from the plant from watering the tree for a week or two. Check the soil with your fingers and only water it when it is dry. You can also add compost to the soil to improve the drainage.

On the opposite end, if it is continuously under-watered, the soil surrounding the tree will begin to dry out, causing the tree's leaves to wilt, turn brown, and eventually fall off. Over time you'll notice the trunk of the tree becoming lighter and starting to crack. If the tree is underwatered, you need to place it on a watering schedule and monitor it weekly.


This is more common with younger maple trees than older ones, as they typically require more fertilizer and maintenance than more established trees. However, it's always better to underfeed a young plant than to feed it too much fertilizer. If you notice your tree's leaves starting to turn yellow or fall off, this could be a sign of over-fertilization.

However, it's best to test the soil first to determine if this is the cause of the trees issues. If you confirm that the tree is, in fact of a fertilized, the best thing to do is to scoop up as much of the fertilize soil as possible and replace it with fresh soil or try to flush the soil with water to help drain it over a period of a few days. Afterward, re-test the soil to check the pH.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Maple Tree?

Maple trees are some of the oldest trees in the world. The average lifespan of a maple tree is anywhere from 300 to 400 years.

Can A Maple Tree Come Back To Life?

If the maple tree is dead, the roots cannot be brought back to life, unfortunately. However, if the maple tree is on the verge of dying but its roots are salvageable, the tree can be brought back to life with proper maintenance, nutrition, and watering. If you are unsure whether or not your maple tree can or cannot be brought back to life, you can always contact a local arborist to see if the tree is in good enough condition to be salvaged. And if so, the arborist can instruct you on the best care for the tree to bring it back to a healthy state.

How Do You Take Care Of Old Maple Trees?

Older maple trees need special attention to stay vibrant and healthy. Here are a few maintenance tips to make sure your older maple tree remains healthy.

Remove grass from around the tree

Removing the grass from around the maple tree will allow your tree better access to moisture and nutrients from the surrounding soil—this way, the tree doesn't have to compete with the grass for nourishment.

Lay mulch

Adding mulch to the surrounding area of your tree's trunk can help to suppress weeds. It can also help the surrounding soil to maintain retain moisture and nourishment from earthworm activity present in the soil. It also helps to loosen up the soil so that it is well-draining.

Find mulch on Amazon.

Test the pH of the soil

Testing the pH of the soil is suggested every six months to a year to ensure that the tree isn't lacking in any nutrients or minerals. If it is, add fertilizer to the soil as recommended by the instructions on the container and continue to test the soil to ensure proper nutrient replenishment.

Check out this tree fertilizer on Amazon.

Be careful when pruning the tree

When pruning your maple tree, focus on removing any declining, dead, or unhealthy limbs. You'll want to avoid removing any healthy limbs as mature maple trees don't produce as much new growth as younger ones. Try to minimize the amount of stress placed on the tree at once, as pruning can be an incredibly stressful process for mature trees.

Also, be sure to prune the tree during the dormant season and not its growing season--this will prevent the sap from attracting insects, which can expose the tree to disease and infestation. If you find that your tree gets an invasive infestation. It's best to treat it with insecticide as soon as possible.

Check out this insecticide on Amazon.

How Do You Keep Maple Trees Healthy?

There are a few regular maintenance tasks that you can perform to ensure your maple tree stays in excellent health. Let's take a look at them.

Adding mulch

Maple trees love mulch as if it helps protect the tree's roots from hot summer weather and cold winters. It also helps the tree's soil to stay moist and loose.

Add fertilizer

If you are looking to grow your maple tree or sustain it, adding fertilizer a few times every growing season can help the tree maintain a steady supply of minerals and nutrients. It can also help the plant ward off disease and fungal issues.

Prune the tree

And an annual or semi-annual pruning session can help remove dead limbs and cross branches from your tree that may be sucking away the tree's energy supply. Try to prune the tree in early spring or late winter to minimize the flow of sap, which can lead to pest infestation and disease--this often weakens the maple tree.

Check out these pruning shears on Amazon.

How Can You Tell If A Maple Tree Is Healthy?

If your maple tree is healthy, it will have lush green leaves that are firm and vibrant. It will also have a solid, healthy bark and soil that is moist and well-draining. The first sign that your tree is unhealthy will usually be a change in the texture or color of the leaves. The change will usually involve leaves turning yellow, brown, or appeal appearing wilted or dry.

Wrapping Things Up

We hope that this post has helped you understand how to best take care of a dying maple tree. Remember, it's always best to first determine the source of stress for the maple tree,e and then is the best method to help mitigate it.


  1. I get oily white pearl size sacks hanging from branches & tree looks stressed! Tried neem oil spray on foliage & leaves in the spring & systemic for testing pests! The tree is dormant now & want to prevent this tree from infestation this spring/summer! Any ideas or suggestions to help? Thx

  2. I have a Autumn Blaze Maple that is 2 yrs. old. Last summer, several of trees had some issue with their leaves. They would start turning black around the edges of the leaves with some black spots on the leaves. Eventually they would fall off. This spring, the Autumn Blaze Maple has put new leaves on the lower 1/2 to 3/4 part of the tree, but there are several stems/branches on the 1/3 top of the tree that have no new leaves and appear to be dead. This is the very end of April and I need to know if I should cut the dead branches off in hopes that my tree has a chance to recover and not die? PLEASE HELP!!!

  3. Maple tree has leaves on one side but not on the other side, what nutrients can I use to bring the tree back to full foliage?

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