You can find hundreds of Japanese maple varieties in leaf colors ranging from bright red-purple to deep green. Leaf shapes vary from broad lobes to fine, fernlike foliage. Smaller species make an excellent choice for outdoor gardens with limited space, adding a dramatic focal point. You can even plant some varieties in containers and use them to anchor the corner of a patio, or to add drama to an entranceway.
When planting a Japanese maple, remember that its roots are shallow and grow out horizontally, so dig a hole that is wider than it is deep. They usually grow very gracefully without pruning, but you can do some minor pruning if necessary. Fertilize your Japanese maple each spring and make sure it gets plenty of water in the summer. Mulching also helps: It keeps the roots cool and conserves moisture.