Q.Planting autumn blaze maple
I have planted an autumn maple that is about 6 ft tall. I did not dig 3 ft surrounding the root ball, only dug for the size of root ball. Should I do around it now or leave it alone? Also how often should I water it? Would a mulch base help?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
It will do more damage to dig it up and fix your mistake then it will to leave it as is. I wouldn't touch it.
As far as when to water- You will want to do this as the soil dries out completely to about 5 inches or so. You can check with a soil moisture meter, or simply digging a spot down to that depth to look at it. Depending on the conditions, it can be every day, or it can be 2 weeks between waterings, so it is best to check periodically.
This article will help you to care for Red Maple Trees: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/maple/care-of-red-maple-trees.htm
If you maple was in a container and you did not straighten out the roots, it is worth digging it up. Roots that have started to circle the container will continue to grow in that direction and will, at some point, girdle or strangle the tree. This is part of why digging a hole 3 times the diameter of the container is suggested. You need room for those straightened roots. If the tree was root bound, it is better to cut circling roots than leave them as is. Water needs increase in sandy soil, windy days and hot weather, temps over 85. The baseline is 10 gallons of water weekly per inch of trunk diameter at chest height. If your trunk measures 1.5 inches across at that height, then it needs a minimum of 15 gallons weekly. Be sure to water during fall and early winter if weather is dry. Trees lose moisture to dry winter winds even after leaf drop. If the roots dry out, the tree dies. Remember, no mulch against the trunk! Leave at least 2 inches of air space between mulch and trunk.