Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum’

Laceleaf Japanese Maple
ACERACEAE, The Maple family

Perfectly pruned with the sun shinning through it, I think it is the most beautiful one in Portland. I rode past it on my bike this evening on a side street near SE 28th.

How to Prune a Japanese Maple

If possible, start when the tree is young and give it a good structure to start with. Think before making each cut. Step back and imagine what the tree will look like with out the piece you are considering removing. You can even sketch your tree to help in planning. Think about separating the mounds of foliage into ‘lightly floating clouds’. Open up the dense outer layer of leaves so that the form of the inner branches can be seen. This will help avoid that ‘Cousin It’ look.

• Remove any dead wood or broken branches. This can be done at any time of year.
• Remove crossing branches that will rub each other.
• Remove branches headed into the center of the crown.
• Major pruning is best done when the plant is in late dormancy. Renovation should be done over several seasons, never removing more than 20% of the plant during one year.
• Leave a small stub when removing a branch larger than 1/4 inch in diameter. Later cut back the dry wood to the branch collar. Some gardeners use sealing wax on the cut.
• A light pruning can be done in early summer to even out new growth. Rub off any buds growing from unwanted spots.
• Never top a tree.
• If a tree needs to be moved to a new location, the best time is late fall or very early spring.

Check out the Plant Amnesty site for more information about the benefits of proper pruning techniques.

About Mulysa

I love my work as a landscape designer and artist. When I'm not planning homesteads or working in the studio, you'll find me hiking, photographing, gardening, baking, cooking vegetarian meals with friends, reading and working on sustainability issues...with my baby on my hip in Portland, Oregon.
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