Landscaping & Design/Japanese Maple Tree


I don't know if you can answer my question, but here goes. I live in New Jersey and a recent storm knocked down a large tree in my front yard. I went to a local garden center (not a Home Depot type of place) and picked out a young Japanese Maple tree, which had beautiful red leaves on it. I took it home and hired a landscaper to plant it in the spot where the original tree fell. A couple of days later I noticed that all the leaves on the tree were gone. My first thought was that the deer got to it since our town is overrun with them. Is this a possibility or perhaps the leaves fell because the tree got shocked when it was planted. Before I contact the owner of the place where I purchased it, I would like to get an expert's opinion. Thank you.

Newly transplanted trees will experience some degree of transplant shock. This is simply the plant reacting to having been moved. It is generally caused by damage to the roots of the plant during the transplant. Even though there are lots of thick roots at the base, the roots that "do the work" are on the ones on the outside of the root ball.   Rough handling these fine roots during planting can really cause the tree a lot of stress and even kill it.  Also, planting a tree on top of a ground-up root stump without adding any soil gives it zero nutrients.

That said, were there piles of leaves under the tree (fell off), or were they gone completely (chewed off & in a deer's stomach) and surrounded by deer poop?   The Maple is a decidious tree but it is not the season for leaf drop -- triggered by a hard freeze -- so it is most likely one of these other issues.  Shock is a slow death all around the plant, were as deer will chew the leaves, twigs, and bark here and there, strip the bark off of the young sapling, or even eat the whole darn thing to the ground!

Here is what "shock" looks like:

Here is what "deer damage" looks like:

Hope it helps. ~Marc  

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Marc Chapelle, RLA


I am a licensed Landscape Architect. I can answer general questions about style and design, give you ideas and suggestions for site amenities, help with larger site-planning issues, or perhaps give guidance for recreational amenities & park design. IF YOU ARE GOING TO ASK FOR A PLANT SUGGESTION GO HERE: I prefer you ask somebody else why your petunias are not as perky as they should be; I'd LOVE to tell you how those petunias can increase your home's value!


20+ years of working with homeowners, contractors, developers and local civil engineering/architecture firms. I am located in the dry Great Basin area (Greater Nevada/Utah), so the use of landscape materials OTHER than plants is emphasized. As a licensed Landscape Architect I've worked on both the East and West Coasts.


BSLA in Landscape Architecture,Licensed in NV, CA, & VA - but can answer Q's across the country Many additional seminars, educational venues, and classes (both taught & attended)

Awards and Honors
Best Multifamily project, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association Best Model Home Landscaping, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association

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