How to Prune a Small Maple Tree

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Maple trees add to a colorful autumn landscape.
Maple trees add to a colorful autumn landscape. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Many varieties of maple trees grow throughout the United States, and the appearance of the bark and foliage of a maple depends upon the variety of the tree. While most varieties of maple trees can grow to heights of 20 to 30 feet, some maples, such as grafted, dwarf trees, may grow to only a few feet. Like any full-sized maple tree, a small or dwarf maple tree requires some amount of pruning to keep it healthy and thriving.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw

Prune any variety of maple tree in the months of May, June, July, November or December. According to Virginia State University, pruning in either the summer months when the tree is in bloom or in the winter months when the tree is dormant prevents the tree from leaking sap.

Remove any damaged or dead wood. If you are unsure about the wellness of a branch or limb, make a small cut through the bark with a clean knife and look for healthy green inside. If the inside appears brown and dark, the branch or limb should be removed. Cut small limbs with garden shears and remove large branches by cutting them off just past the large nub or collar that connects them to the trunk, with a pruning saw.

Cut away the branches on the underside of the crown that have no access to the sun. Also, remove any branches that cross over each other and rub.

Trim back approximately one-third of the branches and limbs of the small maple tree if the crown becomes too dense. When choosing which branches and limbs to remove, make sure that all of the branches and limbs that you leave behind have sunlight access.

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