Silver Maple Tree

The Pros and Cons of Having a Silver Maple Tree in Your Yard

September 15, 2020
Do you have a silver maple tree in your yard? If you do, we’re guessing that you both admire the tree’s beauty and always worry about its health and any risks it poses for your home and neighbors who share the tree.
Silver maples grow quickly, and this speed leaves them with slender, weak limbs that aren’t always able to support the weight of the leaves and branches that are attached to them or the snow and ice that land on them.
In other words, they are fragile trees that need a lot of care.

About the Silver Maple Tree

The silver maple (acer saccharinum), a species native to eastern North America, got its name because its leaves, which are green on top, are silvery-white on their undersides.
Silver maples grow best in temperate northern and mid-southern climates in the U.S. and Canada. This tree reaches a height of 50–80 feet, with a spread of 35–50 feet when fully grown. That’s at least twice the size of a two-story house.
A silver maple tree also grows about three to seven feet per year, meaning it would reach maturity in 6-13 years. It takes many other trees that long or even longer to reach maturity. Thus, those trees are often denser and sturdier than silver maples.
The average silver maple lifespan can be over 130 years, but most only live to 35 years at maximum in an urban setting.
The silver maple leaf has five points, like other maple species. However, these leaves are so pointed you would almost call them jagged.
When leaf buds begin to develop in early spring, the silver maple also produces brilliantly-colored flowers that will turn into seed-dispersing “propellers.”

Why People Plant Silver Maple Trees

Besides its beauty, particularly when swaying in the wind, when people want to plant a tree that is likely to increase rapidly and provide shade or fill empty spaces, they often choose a silver maple.
Another benefit of silver maple trees is their sap-producing capability, hence the “saccharinum” in its scientific name (the other part of its scientific name, “acer,” means “hard”). The silver maple is not the best species for making syrup, though.
These trees have thin, watery sap with relatively low sugar compared to some other maple species. Moreover, silver maples tend to get their leaves earlier than other maples, and once leaf buds start appearing, the sap’s flavor becomes unpleasant.

What Are “Dangerous Trees” and Is the Silver Maple One of Them?

The most dangerous trees are poisonous, spiny, or otherwise harmful to those who come in contact with them. This is not at all the case with the silver maple, though. You might call it a “nuisance tree,” but not a dangerous one.
The silver maple’s rapid growth is both a blessing and a curse, in that it can reach its peak of beauty during the lifetime of the person who planted it. Yet, that same growth keeps the branches from becoming dense enough to withstand much force.
Some people refer to the silver maple as a dangerous tree because it tends to drop branches and sheets of bark that can jam lawnmowers or, far worse, drop huge limbs that easily could damage houses, fences, or power lines.
Because of their extensive and pervasive root system, silver maples also need to be planted strategically—away  from sidewalks, driveways, foundations, and sewer lines or septic systems.
Following a heavy wind or snowfall, it’s not uncommon to find silver maple bark and branches strewn everywhere. Because large limbs sometimes drop, too, it’s wise for a silver maple owner to own a power saw. You will discard branches quite frequently!

Caring for Your Silver Maple

Some people become so nervous believing their silver maple tree will hurt someone or cause property damage that they ask their tree specialists whether it needs to be taken down—a tough decision for all parties involved.
The specialist will point to the greenness of the tree’s upper branches and say, “Look up there! It’s still doing fine.” Then, the next day, you’re mowing the lawn and hear a “ka-chunk” from the mower. Another strip of silver maple bark has become mulch.
So, how can a homeowner deal with a silver maple tree’s problems? It’s a good idea to keep your sugar maple well-watered, especially when it’s still becoming established in the soil. You should also fertilize your tree in early spring.
Another recommendation from tree care professionals is to prune the tree annually during the colder months of late winter or early spring. Experts also say that silver maples sometimes grow multiple trunks. These might need cabling to stabilize them.

When Should You Have Your Silver Maple Removed?

We’ve said a lot about silver maples and the risks they pose to:
  • Houses
  • Fences
  • Power lines
  • Sewers and septic systems
  • Pavement
  • Lawnmowers
  • And all sorts of other things
If you’re like us, you sometimes stare up at your beautiful tree and wonder when the next limb will fall—and what kinds of damage it will cause.
Ask your tree expert when she thinks the tree might come crashing down. If her estimate is sometime soon, ask her and her crew to remove it for you so that you can head off the damage its falling would cause.
But, then, why not plant another well-researched tree to take its place? You can nurture it and watch it grow. It helps if you plant your new tree in fall, which is the optimum time of year for planting saplings.

Ask a Tree Expert

One of the oddest things about a silver maple tree is that it can be in perfect health, even while large parts of it are falling to the ground. So, don’t spend a lot of time guessing what might be wrong.
Instead, talk with your tree care company, and have us come over, give your tree a thorough inspection, and make a recommendation to you?
At Integrity Tree Care, we’ll take care of your silver maple problems or those of any other tree with respect and compassion for both the tree and its owner.