Japanese Maples, also known as Lace Leaf, are some of the most attractive and valuable trees in any garden, so if you are lucky enough to have one on your property, you want to treat it right. When the leaves fall off and the subtle shape of a Japanese maple’s trunk is revealed during the winter months, it can be tempting to get the clippers out and get to work. These trees are among the most difficult and complicated to prune. It takes the skill and talent of a Portland tree pruning service to work with these trees and to shape, define, and encourage their inherently beautiful nature. That’s why we recommend leaving such fine tree care to professional Portland arborists.
It has been said that pruning is a science and an art. Pruning is a science because it involves knowledge of plant biology and botany. It is an art because it involves understanding aesthetic beauty. An arborist or horticulturist must understand both aspects in order to be successful with the job at hand. Pruning Japanese maples are no exception. Due to the complex nature of their branching patterns, and their position of great value in the landscape, Japanese maples require expert pruning from experienced Portland arborists. In this post, we discuss why and when to prune Japanese maples. We also explore some of the nuances of aesthetic pruning that are necessary to properly care for these elegant trees.
Why Prune Japnese Maples?
There are several reasons to prune. The primary reasons are related to the health of the tree, while aesthetics also play a big part.
- To direct growth and structure. By pruning, you can direct growth habits and influence the structure of the tree as it grows.
- Improve airflow. Increased airflow through branches decreases the likelihood of disease.
- Removal of dead, diseased, or damaged branches. These should always be removed first for the health of the tree.
- Prevent unwanted growth. If a branch is growing into a power line, house eave, or other unwanted areas, it should be removed.
- Reduce weight. If a branch is too heavy, trimming can reduce its weight.
When to Prune Japanese Maple Trees
The best time to trim most ornamental and fruit trees is during the winter months while they are dormant. For Japanese maples, it is recommended to do structural pruning in the winter and wait until late spring, after the leaves come out, for fine pruning. Summer can also be a good time for removing larger branches and for removing dead, damaged, or diseased wood.
Know the tree. Spend some time getting to know its structure. What branches need to be pruned? Which branch is the leader or apex branch? Are there competing or crossing branches? What about the overall health of the tree? What is the desired form of the tree? These questions need to be answered in order for your landscape to look its best. Trimming takes time and it will not look good half done. Rather than making a mistake that threatens the life of your Japanese maple, contact our Portland tree pruning service for ongoing expertise and support.
Tips for Trimming Japanese Maple Trees
If you’re planning to prune a Japanese maple yourself, follow these guidelines for best results:
- Prune to remove dead branches mostly on the interior.
- Avoid trying to majorly reshape. This will leave unsightly holes in the canopy.
- Avoid shearing. This will create growth inconsistent with the flowing, drooping branches.
- Use clean cuts back to lateral branches or buds.
- Disinfect your tools after each tree to prevent the spread of disease.
Our #1 Tip for Pruning Japanese maples: Call Us. It takes years of experience to learn how to do a good job trimming a Japanese maple. Extensive training in proper techniques is necessary. In addition to pruning skills, there are other key variables to consider, such as having the proper tools and avoiding the spread of disease and pathogens. Finally, it takes a fair amount of time to do the job right. Call our Portland arborists today for the health of your Japanese maples.
If you have questions about your Japanese maple, please contact us by phone at 503-479-5921 or fill out our online contact form and we’ll get back to you.