How to Trim an Amur Maple Tree

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Amur maple foliage turns gold followed by red in fall.
Amur maple foliage turns gold followed by red in fall. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Amur maple is a small tree that gives big autumn color. The tree is an attractive ornamental with a round shape and single or multiple stems bearing bright red berries. The Amur maple requires the least amount of pruning of all the Acer genus. The tree should be pruned in winter or early spring. Later pruning may encourage sap to run before pruning cuts can heal. Amur maple leafs out early so pruning needs to be done before leaf buds appear. The shape of Amur maple is variable, so pruning should focus on keeping an attractive shape rather than forcing the tree into a characteristic habit.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Garden tool sharpener
  • Hand saw
  • Ladder
  • Pole pruners

Look at the tree carefully before you make any cuts. Step back so you can see its shape and any problem areas. The tree may have many stems or it may fan up from one main trunk. The growth pattern of Amur maples is different dependent upon cultivar, but you want to keep the natural shape of the tree.

Sharpen the pruners at a 45-degree angle. Sharp tools make clean cuts which will help the plant heal faster and prevent the introduction of disease. Just a few strokes across the sharpener will be enough. With more strokes, you are alternately sharpening and dulling, which can damage the blades.

Cut off any bent or broken twigs and branches. Prune out wood that is diseased or dead. Look for and remove branches which are touching or growing upward. The tree does have a drooping habit, so prune out only those branches which are not arching and adding to the shape.

Prune out any suckering growth at the base of the tree. Remove limbs with the saw or pole pruners. Cut at a slight angle and do not cut into the branch cuff or the area where the branch grows into the main trunk or leader.

Trim the top only if you want to keep the height down. It can be kept to 4 to 6 feet high if you train it early. The average height of the tree would normally be 15 to 20 feet tall, but it is up to you if you want it much smaller. Never prune out more than 1/3 of the wood at one time.

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