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Pruning Maple Trees

Learn about the benefits of pruning maple trees.

Caring for your maple trees can require a bit of work, but the rewards are worth it. You’ll have beautiful, lush maples that can produce delicious maple syrup. Pruning is one of the most important parts of taking care of your trees. Pruning maple trees not only helps fight off maple tree diseases, but also promotes tree health and structure.

When to Prune Maple Trees

Pruning Maple Trees
Keeping your maple trees healthy is important for tree growth and syrup production. Learn when and how to start pruning maple trees.

Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring. Pruning maple trees during the dormant season will help your trees with new growth in the spring when they bloom. You can also prune in the summer if you want to slow the growth of certain branches. This is done to shape the tree, and get rid of any defective or dead branches.

Don’t prune your maple trees in the fall. Wet fallen leaves in autumn are a breeding ground for many maple tree diseases. Pruning maple trees in the fall will only expose them to spores from the fungal diseases.

How to Prune Maple Trees

1. Equip yourself with the right safety equipment. Wear gardening gloves and eye protection.

2. Decide on the shape and direction you want your tree to grow.

3. Try not to remove any major (parent) branches of the maple tree. Remove damaged or dead branches. Make thinning cuts to parts of the tree that are full of branches. These cuts should be made slightly above the parent branch. Use pruners for smaller branches. Use loppers for medium branches. Only prune up to 25 percent of your tree’s growth.

4. If you’re going to cut off large branches, use a pruning saw. Undercut the large limb about 1/4 of the way through, between six and 12 inches from the trunk. Then cut through the top of the branch, about one inch beyond the first cut. Remove the final stub right above the branch collar. The branch collar is the round, stubby part that forms around the base of the branch. It’s vital not to cut into the branch collar. Once the cut is made to the tree, the area above the branch collar needs to heal to prevent disease and rot.

When you’re pruning maple trees, the trees may start to leak. Don’t worry, it’s just sap and it’s completely normal. Maple trees normally bleed sap after pruning in the winter. It’s less likely to happen in the summer or late spring.

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