I have a weeping Japanese maple which is at least 10years old. Planted in a partly sunny area. It has been doing except for this year where it looks like it’s dying. Little foliage which is drying up. The outer bark close to the soil has come away. See attached picture. What is wrong and can anything be done to save it
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.
Japanese Maples are marginally hardy here in the Toronto area, especially in exposed locations. Your tree has likely sustained some weather-related damage, perhaps due to the late cold snap this spring.
Pruning back the dead branches is the correct approach. You may want to check if you have pruned enough by using your fingernail to gently scrape the bark on the branches and trunk, starting at the tips and working back toward the base of the tree, until you see green, healthy wood below the bark.
If all you see is brown dead wood, I’m afraid, the tree is lost.
If you do find healthy green wood, prune the tree back to that point and wait for the tree to revive, which it may.
Apply mulch in a ring around the trunk and water the tree regularly. If the tree has not been fertilized for several years, use a slow release fertilizer at a low rate.
Note that a stressed tree may be a target for disease and insect damage before it is able to fully recover, so watch over it carefully and promptly address any problems that arise.
The new growth may be weak and spindly, requiring careful pruning over the next few years. Here is an excellent article on pruning and reviving seriously damaged Japanese Maples, published by the University of Missouri, https://ipm.missouri.edu/meg/2008/3/Caring-for-Freeze-Damaged-Japanese-Maples/
Good luck reviving your Japanese Maple.