Japanese Maple Tree

(Question)

About half of the leaf buds froze this Spring, so all these branches are bare.
Will these branches recover next spring?
Is there anything I should be doing to help the recovery?
I reside in West Hill. My property backs onto the Highland Creek Ravine

 

(Answer)

Japanese maples are quite vulnerable to cold temperatures, particularly when the tree has already begun to produce new growth in the early spring, and particularly in younger trees which may not yet be fully established.   Damage from freezing appears as shrivelling or browning of foliage, and can also include branch die back.  To find out whether your bare branches are viable, gently scrape the bark of these bare branches with your fingernail, starting at the tip and working back towards the base of the tree: you are hoping to find green, healthy wood below the bark.  If you do find any green wood, prune the tree back to that point.

If you are certain that your branches are dead, they should be pruned out by cutting them back to the main branch or stem, being careful not to leave any stubs.  Japanese maples will typically produce an abundance of weaker new shoots in response to freezing, and these will need to be managed by careful pruning so that the tree retains an attractive form.  Here are links to articles that I hope will be helpful in identifying the damage that has been done, and managing it.  The second also cautions on the excessive or wrongly-timed use of nitrogen fertilizers, which is something to be aware of. Because these fertilizers promote leaf growth, application at the wrong time may leave your tree even more vulnerable to damage from late freezes:

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/japanese-red-maple-freeze-damage-35656.html

http://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2008/3/Caring-for-Freeze-Damaged-Japanese-Maples/