Crimson/Red Foilage Japanese Maple

(Question)

We have a small (25 feet by 15 feet) south facing back garden. Please advise on the most spectacular crimson/red Japanese Maple for this area. It will be planted three feet from an east facing wooden fence.
We would like both spring, summer and fall reddish coloured foliage to contrast with mostly green leafed shrubs.

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners

Acer palmatum, the Japanese Maple, is a beautiful member of the Maple family that originally comes from Japan, Korea and China.

There are a myriad of Japanese maples on the market that come in sizes varying from 6-50 feet. Many of these have the colours you are looking for. They require well drained soil and partial sun and shade. When choosing your tree it is important to pick a tree that fits into your space as well as one that has needs that match what is available in the space. Look at your spot and note how much light and wind it receives throughout the day. Also note how well the ground drains in the area or if stays wet longer than other spaces in your garden. If your site does not meet these requirements you may want to consider other trees and look for a different space for a Japanese Maple that meets the trees requirements. You will need to take into account the fence that is three feet away and what is on the other side of the fence. This may be an issue with larger varieties.

Once you know the size of tree you want and what the conditions you have, visit your local nursery. There are many varieties of Japanese Maple and your local store should stock ones that are suited for your climate. See what trees are available then you can choose the best one for your yard. The labels on the trees should have information on each variety and it’s mature size, colours and what it requires to thrive. From that information pick a tree that best matches the look you are going for and the conditions it will be growing in.

Planting the tree correctly will allow it to establish quickly and grow well. There has been much research done in recent years on planting trees and many of the old techniques have changed.

One of the most important steps is to ensure the tree is not planted too deep. The area where the main roots begin to branch off the trunk should be at ground level. When planting do not add any fertilizer compost or new soil to the hole as you fill it in. You should only refill the hole with the soil that was removed from the hole. This will encourage your roots to grow outward and stabilize the tree. If there is too much nutrition in the hole the roots will stay in the high nutrition spot and your tree will not be stable or establish properly. Lastly, when you plant the tree put a ring of mulch on the ground around the tree but do not have it up against the trunk. Water slowly and deeply throughout the season when the soil dries out. Soaker hoses are great for this.

Here is our Garden Guide on tree planting: http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/planting-a-tree-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

Good Luck!