How To Trim A Maple Tree

In this article, I’ll be discussing how to trim a maple tree, so keep reading!

Maple trees belong to the genus Acer category, some of which are shrubs lower than 10 meters in height with trunks shooting out at the lower part of the trunk.

There are many varieties of this tree, including the Japanese Maple, which all need to be pruned for optimum health and growth.


Most maple tree species are deciduous, although some species in southern Asia and the Mediterranean are evergreen (their leaves retain their natural color throughout the year).

Maple trees are a good source of both wood and syrup.

You can prune a maple tree in the spring season. This is after the roots have appeared. Avoid pruning maple trees during the winter or spring. During these times, the sap will bleed and run out.

The bleeding sap doesn’t necessarily harm the tree, but it gives it an unpleasant look. Pruning late in the spring and summer seasons is recommended.

Maple Tree Pruning Tips

Professionals suggest you shouldn’t prune more than 15 percent of the tree’s whole per year. Pruning a little each year is the recommended option, as opposed to pruning a lot per year.

Winter Tips

The maple tree will be leafed out during a pruning session, but you must properly plan your pruning before the foliage season.

The leaves would’ve fallen off during the winter, so this is the best time to inspect its branches, as you can have a clearer view of them when there are fewer leaves.

Be on the lookout for dead or diseased branches and tie a ribbon around the lower branches. You can use tree paint to mark higher limbs that require pruning.

You can also use regular house paint to mark the limbs that need to be removed.

Selective pruning is required to open up the tree’s canopy and reduce the risks of pests and diseases infesting your maple tree. This will also promote air circulation and sunlight penetration.

What to Prune

To begin, you can cut off small twigs from the stem of the maple tree. By doing this, the tree can channel its energy into growing out into the thicker limbs.

Check for any split, u-shaped branches. They aren’t a problem for young maples, but they are potential weak spots that can cause the tree’s lifespan to be shortened or even kill the tree before it reaches full maturity.

Such a situation is best tackled upon observation, as they can be tough to fix later on in the tree’s life.

Cut away any side shoots you come across, also cut off any branch that interferes with the other. Dead, hanging, and sick branches also need to be trimmed off.

Clear out all the debris that drops on the ground after trimming. Use a rake to gather up the fallen leaves and twigs, as this is a perfect setting for the proliferation of pests and diseases.

If a dead or weak limb is attacked by fungus, it can spread to the other healthy parts of your maple tree.

How To Prune A Maple

Before you begin pruning, ensure your shears, loppers, and saws are all in good cutting condition. They need to be sharp and sterilized with an alcohol-based solution.

A sharp cutting tool will give your branches a smooth, clean-cut that will be easy for the tree to heal. Rough, jagged cuts make it more difficult for the maple tree to heal.

Make all your cuts at an angle. They should also be as close to the living parts of the tree as possible.

Supplies You Will Need

Depending on the size of the maple tree you are pruning, the supplies you will need will vary.

I will list the basics below.

  • Pruning shears
  • Pole saw (either electric or manual)
  • A pair of long-handle loppers
  • Japanese pruning saw

Basic Pruning Instructions

You should only prune branches that need to be removed.

These include dead limbs, weak or deformed branches, unwanted suckers and sprouts, limbs that rub against each other, and U-shaped branches that are weak.

Trim the small branches slightly angled direction using your clean, sharp cutting tool. After trimming a diseased limb, sterilize them before cutting another healthy tree to avoid infection.

You should also cut as close to the trunk as you possibly can. Make sure the cuts are smooth and clean.

All trimmed branches should be discarded in a composite heap.

Maple Tree Canopy and Understory Pruning

It is easier to prune a young maple tree, but the more mature trees require a more technical approach. Although trimming the lower branches can be achieved by the tree owner (you).

Remember not to remove many thick limbs of the trunk of a mature tree, as growing new ones would be difficult.

The canopy of a maple tree is naturally rounded. This is unlike the main limbs of many other varieties of evergreen trees.

You should try and achieve an open symmetrical canopy system that gives a nice shape and allows for proper ventilation to the center of the canopy.

Keep in mind that you must not over-prune. A little off the too is enough to allow air into the tree.

Limbs can be removed, but you can’t fix them back, so prune judiciously.

Understory pruning is relatively simple. You just need to cut away the lower branches and shoot off the young maple tree. This will create space around the lower parts of the trunk and give room for walkways.

Safety Considerations When Trimming Maple Trees

You have to consider your safety as you cut off dead limbs.

They can fall unexpectedly and cause injuries. Make sure you are wearing a hard helmet when you stand beneath the limb and working with a lopper or pole saw.

Do not climb up the tree if you do not have the necessary safety gear. Also, do not attempt to cut branches that stretch out into power lines, as this could lead to electrocution.

Call a professional to trim the branches if that is the case.

Special Pruning

Besides providing shades and beautifying your yard, maple trees can also be pruned to have special functions. These include building a treehouse and attaching a swing to it.

You will need to pick out thick, strong, well-attached branches to build your swing or treehouse on.

Caring for Equipment

To get the best results from your maple tree pruning, ensure all your trimming tools are in tip-top shape.

Sharpen the blades of your cutting tools for maximum performance. Also, sterilize them to ensure there will be no transference of diseases from an unhealthy branch to a healthy one.

After using each cutting tool, you need to disinfect them again and place them in their dry bags or in a dry place away from moisture or sunlight to prevent the blades from rusting.

Using a rusted blade on your maple tree will also cause harm to it.

Maple Tree Pruning Issues And Questions

For the first time, trimming a maple tree may come with some problems and unanswered questions.

Some of the most common issues and questions a newbie will have includes the following –

Weepy Trees

After you’ve pruned your maple tree, you will discover that there is a form of liquid dripping out from the areas you cut. You may wonder what this liquid is, and you should.

Anyway, the liquid you see dripping out is tree sap. It is more likely to flow during the fall and early winter seasons, but in many cases, it can drip at any time of the year.

If the sap is free-flowing, then trimmed areas will heal very slowly. For this reason, it is suggested that you prune in the late spring or summer. At these times, the sap is less likely to flow.

Sap Ooze

If you notice this at other times of the year, check to see if there are any teeth marks on your tree. Squirrels and other woodland creatures enjoy the taste of sap, and maple tree sap is among the sweetest you can find.

These creatures can bite the tree to release the sap. This won’t harm the tree, but it may cause you some concern and raise questions if you don’t know what’s happening.

Trees Near Power Lines

This is a common problem tree owners face. If the branches of your maple tree are entangled in-between power lines, then avoid cutting it yourself.

It will only be a problem if you decide to do the work yourself. Call on the power company to assess the situation.

Over Pruning

A first-timer may make the mistake of over-pruning the maple tree. If this happens to you, well, there’s nothing you can do since tree branches can’t be screwed or glued back on.

During the next pruning season, remind yourself not to overdo it!


I trust this article on how to trim a maple tree has been educative.

Follow best practices to get the best out of your maple tree.

Stay safe!

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