First let me tell you all I am NOT an arborist and don't pretend to know about trees. The problem I am concerned with is the rocks placed around the base of this maple. This is on my own property and they were already there when I moved in. I want to remove them and do a small mulch ring but I am worried that the roots may be too exposed possibly damaging the tree. I was going to lightly shovel the dirt away from the outside and then use a hose to wash the rest form the trunk. What is the best way to handle situations like this? I know the tree was planted before the stone was installed. Any idea why the trunk is splitting?(see pic). I noticed a decline in leaves this year. what is a good fert for these trees. I only have 26-0-11 .14-14-14. and 18-24-12. all lesco. I use the triple 14 on ornamental Is this ok for this tree or should I call for an injection fert? Thanks for any help you can give me.