From the common red maple to the colorful varieties from Japan, maples tend to make good shade trees with medium to fast growth. They benefit from pruning from early in their growth, helping produce a more open shape with strong branches. Use these maple pruning tips to either handle the task yourself or make sure your tree service is doing a good job.
Trim Primarily During the Summer
Many trees respond best to pruning in the late winter or early spring before leaf buds open. However, this is not a great time for maples because they tend to have sap moving through the trunk and branches at this time. It's why January and February are often known as maple syrup season in areas with heavy sugar maple populations. Instead, focus your pruning efforts in the late spring to summer. Wait until the leaves are all fully emerged and generating plenty of energy on their own. This results in lower sap content. Mature trees can handle losing a little sap, but young trees respond badly to being trimmed too early each year.
Remove Rubbing Branches
Not sure what to focus on to keep your maple from contracting a disease or developing rot? Look for any branches that are overlapping or growing so closely together that they're rubbing against each other. Branches angled downward also deserve trimming during your annual inspection and removal of damaged and dead material. Even as your maple reaches its mature height, you'll want to remove poorly located growth before it gets out of hand.
Stay Under 20%
Taking too much material from a tree can drain its reserves and leave it open to disease and pests. Always keep your removal of foliage and branches under 20% of the tree's total canopy. This also includes any kind of drastic trimming like crown reduction or multiple trunk removal. Young trees are particularly sensitive to being cut back too drastically, but mature trees can suddenly die back after being pruned too heartily in one go.
Leave the Wounds Open
Finally, don't use wax, tar, or other wound treatments to paint over the areas where the branches are trimmed off. Leave these wounds open so air dries them out. Many tree wound dressings or coverings end up trapping moisture in the wood and driving it into the heart of the tree, leading to a deadly case of root. The branches should be trimmed off at an angle so water sheds naturally away from the tree.
For more information, contact a tree service, like Arbor Barber Inc.