There are a couple of things that might be killing your maples... When maples are young, they have thin bark that is prone to sunscald damage on the trunk. It shows up as a long vertical scar on the south or west side of the trunk. Sunscald does severe damage, but usually doesn't kill the tree. Because you describe the bark splitting, I thought I'd run that one by you first. If that's not it, then it sounds like some kind of physiological problem. That can mean site problems--has there ever been a drippy vehicle parked on that spot? Is it planted in a low spot that's constantly wet? There may be planting problems--could the trees have been planted too deeply? Mower blight--bruising the trunk with the lawn mower--can kill trees. Is your tree mulched to keep the mower away? Whatever the problem, you can pretty much rule out insects or disease in your situation. It has to be related to the site, the planting, or the care. I hope these ideas help.
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