Maple Tree Pruning

Maple tree pruning is essential for a healthy and attractive tree. Properly pruning a maple tree creates better light penetration and air circulation, which will reduce the risk of fungal infection. Removing dead and damaged limbs will improve the look of your maple tree as well.

Maple Tree Pruning Done Right

  • The boys of (early) summer. Maple trees are known as "bleeders" because they ooze sap from their wounds. The best time for pruning a maple tree is just after the tree has finished leafing out. For most areas of the country, this means late spring or early summer.
  • The right tools for the job. Maple tree limbs should be pruned with sharp tools to insure a clean cut. For limbs and twigs less than ¾" in diameter, a pair of by-pass (scissor action) pruning shears will work fine. For limbs and branches up to 2" in diameter, lopping shears should be used. Larger limbs will require the use of a curved-blade pruning saw. Anything larger than a pruning saw can handle will require the use of a chainsaw and should only be attempted by someone with lots of experience.
  • Stay off the collar. When you're pruning a maple tree, it is important to avoid cutting into the collar of the branch. The collar is the swollen area where the branch meets the trunk. Sometimes the collar will have a bark ridge (a rough patch of bark) in the crotch between the branch and trunk. The collar contains a chemical barrier that resists the entry of decay into the trunk of the tree. Damaging this area will reduce your maple tree's ability to resist decay.
  • We three "D"s. Your first objective is to remove any dead, damaged or diseased branches. Pruning after your maple tree has produced its leaves will make these types of branches easy to spot.
  • Other miscreants. Once you've removed any flawed limbs, inspect your maple tree for limbs or branches that are growing incorrectly. In general you'll want to remove limbs that cross each other, grow in toward the trunk or grow upward at a steep angle.
  • Go with the pros. Contact an arborist if you have branches that are too big for you to handle, or if you are uncomfortable with any aspect of the pruning process. Better to get help than to get in over your head.
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