Housesitting gardens with Japanese Maples

22 Mar, 2017

Housesitting gardens with Japanese Maples

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Acer – Japanese maples bring instant colour to the domestic garden

Housesitting gardens with Japanese Maple Trees

Housesitting gardens is a personal pleasure that is becoming important to me. I am a homeowner and a housesitter, and a self-confessed lover of Acers, or Japanese Maple trees. It goes without saying that I am passionate about colour in my own garden and have several Acers dotted around either in pots or planted in the ground between the blousey hydrangeas. And, needless to say, I am instantly drawn to housesits on HouseSitMatch with gardens. If their photos show that they have a Japanese Maple, the housesit goes to the top of my list for applications. Perhaps it is because they bring instant vibrancy to a rich backdrop, maybe it’s the colour red. I’m not sure, all I know is it draws me in.

Japanese Maple Trees – Housesitting Gardens and Getting it Right

Many people think that ornamental trees are hard to look after; that their fancy foliage will demand more care and attention, almost like a diva. This simply isn’t the case, though, as many ornamental trees just happen to look that way and they don’t need much assistance to carry on sporting their amazing blooms or leaves. The Japanese maple tree is a good example of a low-maintenance, high-impact ornamental and it’s a popular choice for many UK & US gardeners. Here’s the lowdown on this striking tree.

An exotic friend

These trees are, unsurprisingly, from Japan, where they are prized for their stunning autumnal display of red, orange and yellow leaves. In the UK they grow wherever the soil is slightly acidic, alternatively you can grow them in post. They’re hardy too, being able to thrive in USDA zones 5-9; so most areas in the country will support them nicely. So housesitting gardens with Acers is pretty easy really, they are self-maintaining apart from needing regular watering if grown in pots. And as a housesitter you simply get to enjoy the techni-colour display.

Bright Acer leaves coloured red and yellow
Housesitting gardens with Acers brings great joy when colours turn

Japanese maples are also very versatile and varied – they range from three feet in height to 30 feet tall. The smaller varieties can be used in pots and flower beds, although some types will get too big for their pots and will need to be moved on. When housesitting gardens in Surrey once I was asked to replant a couple of Acers into prepared beds. I’m returning this Summer as a day guest to see how they are getting on in their new home.

If you want to grow a maple in a pot

In my own garden, the two Japanese Maples planted in pots are still doing well after living with us for three years. Whether I am at home or housesitting gardens the secret is in the feeding to maintain their health and the vibrancy of their colour. If planting new trees in your own pots, you’ll be best off with the dwarf varieties like the Pixie or Red Dragon. Be careful with the pot, as it should be both big enough for the rootball to have enough space and for water to drain out. If you buy your Japanese maple trees from The Tree Center, you’ll be advised as to the best pot and tree combination.

These maples like a well-draining soil (a little on the dry side) with lots of organic matter. Slightly acidic works best and they don’t need much mulch. When it comes to watering the maple, you should check the soil – if it feels wet, don’t add any more water; if it feels dry or just a little damp, give it a small drink.

Trees in containers will need some fertilizer, so use a watered-down solution once a week from March to July; stop at the end of July to allow the tree to get ready for winter.

If you want to grow your maple in the ground

A ground-planted Japanese maple will only need to be fertilized in the spring, and that’s with a solution that’s low in nitrogen. It’s important that you don’t over-water these trees as they’re prone to root rot. If it’s in the ground, rainwater is enough, unless there’s a particularly dry spell. When housesitting gardens with Acers I always check the humidity in the soil around these trees. Usually I housesit in the Summer so they do need watering from time to time. One handy tip for Japanese maples is to water the roots only – don’t get any water on the leaves as sunlight can be magnified in water drops and leave scorching marks. You should also try to avoid planting your maple in full sunlight as they can be scorched by strong sunlight and end up looking a bit faded by the end of the summer.

It’s also important to plant the tree away from any pavements or other structures because maples have quite the root system and you could end up having to transplant it after a few years!

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