Wanna Be Maple Tree
By this time, most of you who have maple trees in your yard or even the neighbour’s yard are starting to see last year’s keys spring to life. And while I’m a true advocate for trees and re-treeing the urban and rural centres, I understand that there is a proper place for them in our landscapes (and our garden isn’t usually one of them). So let’s take a look at some of the ways you can move or remove these little spinners that have now germinated.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or so I’ve been told). This is likely going to be true for your wanna be maple tree seedlings as well. In the fall, once the spinners have come down from the trees, rake them up. Move them to the compost pile rather than putting the leaves directly on the garden beds. I know I always suggest leaves as great mulch but if pulling baby maples in the spring isn’t your thing, cook the maple seeds in a composter first. Once temperatures have reached about 60 degrees C, the seeds will be sterilized.
If you didn’t do any raking in the fall and now your gardens are inundated with little maple sprouts, there are a few options.
Hand Picking: If you have a small space and a few baby maples coming up, hand picking them will be the easiest. But I will provide you this cautionary advice: pick them now! The smaller the seedlings are, the easier they will be to pull, having a minimal root system and no real hold in the soil.
Mowing: For small wanna be maples in the lawn, simply keep your lawn mowed at 3 inches (8cm). The maple will not have the green cotelydon or first true leaves to produce sugars via photosynthesis and they will die out. Overseed your lawn in the spring and fall to help thicken it. A thick, healthy lawn will make it difficult for weeds (and maple keys) to reach the soil’s surface.
Hoeing: If your garden does not have mulch, hoe out around your perennials and do the same before you plant any annuals. If you notice small maples coming up later on, hoe them out. It’s an easy way to keep weeds and unwanted growth at bay (and is a lot less back-breaking than hand-pulling, especially if you have a large area or a lot of weeds/maple seedlings).
Re-mulch: If your garden beds have been mulched, you can either pull the maples by hand when they are young or you can add a light covering of fresh mulch. This will smother the green sugar-producing leaves of the maple and it will die. Before adding new mulch, it’s a good idea to use a fan rake in the spring once the snow has melted but before everything dries up and just lightly rake off the leaves (that likely contain maple keys). Put the leaves into a composter and if you don’t have a composter, now’s a good time to start one!