Grooming and Pruning Japanese Maples

I freely admit that I love pruning Japanese Maples.  I appreciate finding these under-pruned gems vs. the over-pruned heart-breakers.  So, put away those electric and gas powered trimmers.  You should only be using hand-pruners, loppers, and a handsaw… ever!

Finding this Crimson Queen.  She’s over 50 years old and about 15 feet tall:

Crimson Queen Japanese Maple

I had already started to remove a few branches, because I couldn’t keep my hands off her.  At this point, our first meeting, she was full of dead wood.  FYI: the dead wood is grey in appearance and snaps off readily.  I spent an hour removing the dead stuff with my bare hands.

After the dead was removed:

Japanese Maple after the dead wood was removed.

Acer ‘Crimson Queen’ pruning.

Next up was to remove anything broken or damaged.  The homeowner wanted the branches up off the lawn (don’t you even dare bring out an electric trimmer… put that thing away).  He also wanted the tree pruned away from the house.  Like I mentioned before, this tree was close to 15 feet tall.  I actually cut out a branch that was about the average size tree you would see in most landscapes.  These cuts open up the tree and allow sunlight and good air circulation.  A girl with legs like those should show em’ off, don’t you think?

Japanese Maple proper pruning

Acer ‘Crimson Queen’ after pruning.


Here’s a shot of Clover (my truck) with the pruned branches ready to go off and be composted:

Clover, The Urban Gardener

Japanese Maple pruning.

I pruned a second, smaller Crimson Queen at the same job.  I’ll post those before and afters later.