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A spherical maple only shows off its symmetrical rounded crown in the first few years. From the fifth year at the latest, various blemishes in the appearance cause frustration. Awkward expansion, drooping branches and an aging crown are evidence of age-related growth conflicts that require gardener's intervention. However, with expert trimming care, you can turn back time and get your Acer platanoides globosum back in shape. This green guide explains when and how to properly prune a maple as a spherical tree.

cutting time

Choosing the right date for pruning the maple tree depends on several factors. In all maple species, growth is characterized by a massive juice flow. If you prune the ball tree in the middle of the season, plant sap will pour out of the cut wounds, weakening the defenses against diseases and pests. However, if you put off cutting care until the winter, there is a considerable risk of frost damage. So when should you use pruning shears?

in the early autumn opens the ideal time window for a pruning. Between the end of September and the beginning of November, the sap pressure in the maple falls to its annual low. Biting frost is still a long way off in most regions at this time of the year. In addition, the Federal Nature Conservation Act allows trees, bushes and hedges to be cut from September 30th. Based on these premises, the following periods have emerged in practice when you can successfully cut a maple as a spherical tree:

  • Topiary: late September to early November (mild wine-growing regions until early January)
  • Thinning cut: end of September to end of January
  • Rejuvenation pruning: end of September until February 28th at the latest (according to § 39 BNatSchG)

Concrete framework conditions indicate that you have a suitable day in mind: the crown has lost at least half of its leaves. The weather will be dry with an overcast sky and no blazing sun. Ideally, the thermometer shows readings above freezing. Of course, a light frost is not an obstacle as long as it is not colder than - 5 °C.

Cut maple

There are various situations in which the maple tree needs a pruning. The following instructions show how to proceed correctly when cutting maple.

Maple never cut - what to do?

Have you ordered your maple tree to be pruned for the first time? Then secure the editing premiere with a test cut. On the chosen date, cut back one or two thin branches that are no more than a finger thick. Observe the sap flow in the following hour. If sap runs out of small cuts, postpone pruning until next month to do the test again. Minimal sap flow gives the go-ahead for the planned cutting action.

Shape cutting: instructions

By choosing the best time, you have cleared the first hurdle on the way to the perfect shape cut. Now it comes down to how you trim the crown. The following instructions will guide you step by step through the correct incision:

  • Sharpen, clean and disinfect cutting tools
  • Put on gloves and goggles
  • initially cut back all branches protruding from the round crown
  • shorten all shoots around by a third to reduce the size of the crown or correct the shape
  • How to cut: Hold the scissor blades at a slight angle and place them 3-5 mm above a pair of leaves or buds

Where you apply the scissors is crucial to the result. At a short distance from a vegetation point, such as a leaf or bud, activate the expulsion forces below the cutting point, so that fresh branches happily sprout from sleeping eyes. If you cut too far apart, the wood dries back and affects the dormant eyes. In the worst case, a spherical maple will stop growing at this point.

notice: Did you know that a maple as a spherical tree is not included in Mother Nature's blueprint? In fact, the picturesque Acer platanoides globosum is the successful result of crossing, grafting and genetic mutation. Native Norway maple (Acer platanoides) serves as the trunk. The spherical crown is enthroned on this wild base, the buds of which sprout almost equally in all directions, because the law of top bud dominance has been suspended.

Thin out maple - step-by-step instructions

In addition to the shape cut, please note a thinning cut on the schedule every 2 to 3 years. Beginning in the fifth year of life, deadwood accumulates in the crown. The associated shadows cast on active shoots and their buds impairs photosynthesis, so that the tree crown becomes bare from the inside. So that your beautiful Acer platanoides globosum wears a dense dress of leaves, thin out the crown as follows:

  • Saw off bare, dead branches
  • Caution: Set the saw blade at a sufficient distance (approx. 5-8 cm) to the grafting point
  • Cut back two-thirds of the way into the crown and cross-growing branches
  • important: always cut at the buds
  • Derive excessively long, drooping or tautly upright branches

If you are familiar with the cutting technique of the derivation, annoying gaps in the crown image after thinning out are a thing of the past. The art is that you don't cut anywhere. Rather, look out for a young, outward-growing one near the intended cutting point side shoot. Where young and old shoots fork, it is cut. Please position the scissor blades or saw blade in such a way that you cut away the old wood down to a tiny stub. This ensures that the young shoot can quickly close the gap without suffering any injuries.

Rejuvenate old spherical tree in stages

Common reasons for a rejuvenation cut on the maple are storm damage, massive fungal diseases and worrying pest infestation. If your old maple as a ball tree has never been pruned, breathe new life into the tree with this radical pruning method. The secret of success is a step-by-step approach so that the stressed tree can regenerate in the meantime. How to properly revitalize a diseased, aging or damaged spherical crown:

  • In the first step, thoroughly thin out all dead wood
  • Spread the rejuvenation cut over 3 years
  • Cut back the crown by a third at a time to 10 cm short branch stumps
  • support regeneration after each stage with compost or bark mulch

As with the thinning section, the finishing point again the center of attention. Therefore, please do not cut into the thickened grafting area. This neuralgic point is in the transition from the trunk (wild rootstock) to the crown (noble area). After injuries in this region, the strong-growing Norway maple pushes through. This pruning error then stops the growth of the maple as a spherical tree and results in a natural, highly oval or pyramidal crown shape. However, as long as the taper cut leaves a head with short stubs, there is no need to worry.

tip: With wild shoots from the trunk, the Norway maple proves its strong growth potential as a base. The so-called water shoots are removed promptly so that they do not overgrow the noble spherical crown. Grasp a wild shoot with your hand and break it off. Please tear out a cheeky shot of water from the tree grate with a strong tug.


The right tool plays a key role in the expert trimming of Acer platanoides globosum. the cut sensitive Ball maple survives the procedure with flying colors if smooth cuts allow the plant sap to run off unhindered. Meticulous cleanliness of the blades prevents open cuts from being infected by pathogens. The following overview sums up the tools and accessories with which you are perfectly equipped for every type of cut:

  • Shape cut: high-quality pruning shears or pruning shears (bypass mechanism) for thin to thumb-thick branches
  • Thinning out and rejuvenation: Two-hand pruning shears (bypass mechanism) or folding saw (Japanese teeth) from 3.5 cm branch thickness
  • Spiritus, Sagrotan or a comparable disinfectant
  • rag
  • work gloves, goggles
  • stable ladder

We recommend using scissors bypass mechanics, because here two sharp blades cut through the wood smoothly. In contrast, anvil shears work with a sharp blade that presses the branch against a blunt opposite side and only then cuts it, which can cause fatal bruises. A special advantage of a folding saw with Japanese teeth is that you can cut thick branches on the maple while pulling. The forward movement does not require any pressure, such as with a European pruning saw, which significantly reduces the effort required. A thin saw blade with sharp saw teeth leaves smooth cut surfaces that then heal quickly.

Common mistakes

Three common mistakes are responsible when a maple as a ball tree is disfigured after a pruning measure. In order to save you from this disaster, we call typical editing errors by name with useful tips for prevention:

cut in summer

  • Consequence: maple bleeds out, becomes ill and infested with pests
  • Prevention: pruning between late September and early November

not cut at buds

  • Consequence: no sprouting from dormant buds
  • Prevention: choose a cutting point at a short distance (3-5 mm) from a leaf or bud

Processing point injured

  • Consequence: no more spherical crown
  • Prevention: Leave grafting point as heads with short shoot stumps (5-8 cm long)

Another source of frustration is unclean cutting tools. Because pathogens prefer to use blades and saw blades as a transport medium to the next tree. Open lacerations provide ideal targets for fungal spores, viruses and pests. Therefore, clean pruning shears, pruning shears and saws carefully before each use, mildew, aphids and the like are at a disadvantage.

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