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The maple, scientifically also known as Acer, is considered a decorative and at the same time easy-care tree. It is not for nothing that it can be found in countless public and private parks. And the well-known trees with their striking, five-pointed leaves are also very popular in front yards and gardens. But even insensitive trees require care and must be subjected to regular pruning. We will tell you in simple, easy-to-follow steps what you need to consider when cutting maple.

tree pruning

Before you can actually pounce on your maple with the following instructions, you should know a few things that should be observed in general when pruning trees. For example, if you are aware of the influence of pruning time and shape on future growth, the correct pruning of the maple can not only trim it in shape, but also significantly reduce future effort.

  • Cut back in autumn: promotes growth and stimulates strong shoot formation
  • Cut back in summer: stunts growth and can slow down excessive growth
  • Temperature: no cutting in frost, otherwise frostbite at the cut points can damage twigs or entire branches
  • Sun: cut when the weather is overcast, excessive drying out and damage to the cutting edges due to intensive sun exposure
  • Precipitation: wait for dry weather, since pruning in the rain leads to the entry of pathogens and at the same time to bleeding of the interface
  • Sealing: Wound sealing is not necessary for "normal" branch thicknesses, as this prevents the cut surface from drying out and offers numerous fungi and diseases good opportunities to develop
  • Clippings: if the wood is undamaged, it can be easily chopped up and used as ground cover, but must be disposed of or burned if there is disease or fungal infestation

danger: Since the maple is one of the trees that produce a lot of sap, intensive pruning should always take place between autumn and January at the latest. Inhibiting spring cuts, on the other hand, should be kept to a minimum in order to avoid severe bleeding and the resulting damage! Exceptions are the field maple and the Asian slotted maple. These two particular forms of the Acer family can easily be cut into shape in spring or even well after they have sprouted in early summer.

cut maple

In general, members of the Acer family are considered slow-growing trees. A maple tree therefore rarely needs pruning and in many cases can even do without pruning. Only when the tree is too big or causes unwanted shadows due to its expansive shape should a trimming and boundary cut be made. The following guide explains how to do this.


Before you even get down to business with the maple, all the necessary preparations should be made in order to be able to proceed efficiently and without unnecessary surprises later with the actual cut.

  • Clean and disinfect tools to remove any pathogens present on other cut wood
  • Sharpen cutting edges if necessary, since smooth cuts offer fewer surfaces for diseases and fungi to attack
  • Clear the area under the tree to eliminate potential tripping hazards, etc
  • Check the ladder and, if necessary, provide material for a secure footing (e.g. wood to underlay on soft ground).

tip: Large and bulky ladders in particular can often be rearranged on your own, but you should definitely get the help of a second person to set them up the first time. If stability is not given, all subsequent work steps will otherwise suffer.


The actual cutting can be broken down into two distinct themes. Ultimately, it is always about removing wood from the maple, but the work can be systematized by subdividing it into different focuses and thus being well structured and clearly arranged for beginners and professionals alike.

Regular pruning

If the crown of the maple is to be kept in check, this regular, but usually not annual cut is based on the one-year-old wood. This means that the wood that has grown in the past year is removed. On the one hand, the tree is not weakened by interventions in older and more pronounced structures, on the other hand, it is precisely this wood that makes the crown appear more and more lush and spacious on the outside.

  1. define goals: Containment of growth when space is limited
  2. recognize one-year-old wood: mostly lighter, thinner and smoother bark
  3. Define interfaces: always attach too long branches a few millimeters above leaf nodes or dormant eyes
  4. incision: Always make cuts at a slight angle so that rainwater and escaping sap can run off the cut surface and drip off
  5. wound sealing: not mandatory

Thin out

The goal when thinning out the tree, on the other hand, is not to limit the crown, but to create free spaces inside the crown to ensure or improve the light and ventilation of the foliage there. Contrary to the pruning, the focus here is not on the annual, but specifically on the perennial wood. Because even if the maple tree is regularly kept in check, individual older branches can increase in volume to such an extent that the maple ultimately hinders itself. It thus severely limits its ability to generate energy through photosynthesis by competing with itself for sunlight.

  1. define goals: Distance to narrow knot positions inside the crown
  2. Identify waste wood to be removed: no clear identification of the "unfavorable" branches possible, if the stand is dense, remove several branches in the middle in order to favor all surrounding branches
  3. Define interfaces: Remove branches directly from the trunk, as new growth from old wood rarely occurs
  4. incision: About 30 to 50 centimeters from the trunk, cut into the branch from below to the middle of the branch, then make a cut about 10 centimeters further away from the trunk from above until the branch breaks off, then cut off the relieved branch root on the trunk
  5. wound sealing: Only necessary in the case of very large cuts, e.g. when removing central branches or removing individual trunks in the case of forks
    Special forms of maple cut - then a cut is absolutely necessary

There are a few exceptions in which a pruning of the maple tree is still absolutely necessary:

  • After replanting bare-root young trees - then shorten all shoots by a quarter to a third
  • After transplanting - compensate for the lost root mass in the crown by cutting back proportionately
  • In the event of disease - remove affected branches to prevent the spread of the pathogen

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