Japanese Maple Is Not Healthy Looking

Q: My daughter gave this Japanese Maple to me for Father's Day. It was beautiful and healthy. I live in Massachusetts and I have been careful not to overwater it. During this time it has been getting progressively sick-looking. Can you please take a look at the photos I've uploaded and tell me what is wrong? I have not fertilized it or given it anything but water according to the websites that I have read. Thank you for your anticpated advice.

A: I don't have a crystal ball, but you may have not watered it enough. Here's an article I recently wrote about watering newly planted trees. It may be helpful. Best Nancy
Fall is often considered the best time of year to plant new trees. Generally, late August, September and October are considered prime time. But it really depends on the weather. As long as the hottest days of summer are gone and the ground isn't frozen yet, you can plant trees. I often write about the following techniques professionals recommend for watering newly planted trees and shrubs. Begin by watering the root ball well before planting. One to two weeks after planting, these newly installed plants should be watered daily. Three to twelve weeks after planting, water every three days. Then water once a week until the roots are established. In Michigan that takes as long as a year or two, or more if it’s a large tree. But part of the secret to successful planting is not just watering often but providing the right amount of water until the roots become established. And the establishment time for a tree can be estimated by the caliper size of the tree when it’s planted. The standard method of measuring a tree when newly planting is to measure the width of the trunk at six inches above the ground. Trees with trunks more than 4 inches in diameter should be measured at 12 inches above ground. A ruler is a good tool for this job. How much water to apply at each application depends on the caliper size of the tree’s trunk at planting time. The general rule of thumb is 1 and a half gallons of water per application for each caliper inch of the trunk. So, a tree with a 2-inch caliper trunk will require about 3 gallons of water per application. Many homeowners with built-in sprinkler systems used to water their lawns mistakenly believe they also deliver enough water to also sustain young trees in the landscape. As the growing progresses, new trees should be watered thoroughly and consistently, so that you and Mother Nature apply enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of eight to ten inches at least once a week. However, another variable is soil type. Sandy soils drain very fast and may require watering more often while heavy clay soil dries more slowly. When the weather is hot and dry as it has been this summer all trees that have yet to become established could use an extra drink because water is the life blood of a tree.