ASK BURTON: Q: We planted this Japanese maple in the spring. It just recently began looking distressed with some brown leaves. The tree is getting full morning sun but nothing past noon. Is there anything I can do to help it?

 A: Your plant is showing some heat stress getting established this first summer, but you haven’t done anything wrong in its maintenance. Japanese maples are one of our most prized shade feature plants in North Texas landscaping, and yours is simply planted in as sunny a location as these plants will tolerate in our area.

Your tree will be better established next summer and should show much less, or even no stress at this point in the season. The worst burned leaves will kick off in the late summer as a modest flush of new growth comes this September, and it will be fine this coming Spring.

We recommend that you keep a nice layer of mulch over the root ball of your tree, and ensure that it is adequately watered. You could also rig a temporary shade cloth this month if temperatures really hit the stratosphere and the plant begins to burn worse than it’s showing right now. Get the plant through the first hot summer in ground, and things will get a lot easier in the future.