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Algae Grower
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, so we bought our house we're in about 9 months ago and I've been slowly working on the landscaping. I know I should have done this in the winter but I figured I better learn sooner than later.

This Japanese maple has some issues and I'd like to learn how to prune it properly. Two of the main branches were broken off at some point.



Any help would be appreciated.
 

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I'd prune back the longer branches in each of the top corners and the longer one on the left side of the tree. I've done this with mine and it should make for a more compact and bushier tree. It's also a younger tree so you could always just leave it alone and see where goes :)
 

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Algae Grower
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What can I do about the fact that 2 places where the tree forked are not there? What would happen if I just left a small branch at a forked area and trimmed off some of the smaller branches on the trunk?
 

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I know most trees are gonna send most of their energy to the top of the tree and try to grow taller. If you want to fill in that forked area I'd say prune heavier on the top of the tree to allow some of that energy to be used up by the bottom and middle branches. It's hard to really tell how it's going to look because it's so young, but you can train some of the branches to go where you want them to. Same concept as a bonsai tree. It's a great looking tree, it looks very healthy so I don't think you're going to have any problems trying to get some of those areas to fill in, just may take the rest of the season.
 

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1) Don't top a Maple, or any tree for that matter, ever. :)

2) Don't prune it in spring, Maples bleed a lot and pruning at the wrong time of year can kill an already weakened tree. Late summer (after it has leafed out fully) or later winter is best.

Honestly its not looking so good, hard to tell but did the top die back already? Personally I would make sure it gets lots of food and water this summer and then think about pruning at the right time and when the tree will handle it better.
 

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Algae Grower
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We moved in the mid august last year. The house had been vacant for roughly 6 months. During that time the previous owner had left the water on but had the irrigation system cut back to just keep stuff from dying. The tree was looking really rough and some/most of the top branches were fried the hot summer with minimal water. I cut all the dead stuff off during the winter. The last two weeks the tree has really taken off. I didn't prune off the tips on the top because I didn't know if they were dead or not.

Thanks Laura.

Here's a better shot of what's happening up top:

 

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You can go ahead and prune off anything that did not sprout, but I would leave the main pruning for when the tree is dormant. You could pinch some new growth if you wanted, or snip a few live twigs, but much better to wait.

If you want the tree to grow up and out, and not have so much leaf mass in its lower area this will take time. Prune to shape some main branches, but do not remove much of the lower growth yet. The lower growth is protecting the bark from sunburn. Each year you can take off a little bit of the lower growth to show off the trunk. The top will eventually get wide enough to provide the shade. Similarly, do not thin the upper branches all in one go. Do this also over several years to minimize sun burn.

If you want to keep it about the size it is then prune more heavily, especially the longest branches. This would turn it into a 'lollipop on a stick'. Not a nice way to prune a Japanese Maple.

Suggest you google Acer palmatum and look at images of how others have been pruned.
 

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1) Don't top a Maple, or any tree for that matter, ever. :)

2) Don't prune it in spring, Maples bleed a lot and pruning at the wrong time of year can kill an already weakened tree. Late summer (after it has leafed out fully) or later winter is best.

Honestly its not looking so good, hard to tell but did the top die back already? Personally I would make sure it gets lots of food and water this summer and then think about pruning at the right time and when the tree will handle it better.
What is the idea behind never topping a tree? Citrus is regularly topped as are many others. I top certain trees to break the topical dominance and get it to bush out. Although there are certain trees that shouldn't be pruned when sap is running most of the others you are in control. Some times of the year are of course more desirable. You don't want to prune fore instance when a tree is in bud. It reduces your flowers. But will it hurt the tree? No. So long as you make the cuts properly.
Some pruning is done to shape the tree. Some to get rid of a future problem like a crossing branch or a bad crotch that will be susceptible to breaking with a heavy wind or snow load.
 

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Algae Grower
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks guys. I guess I have plenty of time to figure it out. I think I'll just continue to remove the dead parts and just let it get healthy again.
 

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I would prune that bottom left branch off and shorten the middle left branch that is hanging out about 16" and then bring in the devil horns on too so it's all nice and symetrical. Then use some limb sealant...it's this black spray stuff you can find in any lawn and garden center...to seal off all of the branches you pruned, and you will be right as rain.

*experience: 8 years as a professional landscaper and groundskeeper.


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The little scoliosis like crook in the trunk will self correct in a few years


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Haha! My first post to the forum. Anyway, I have about fifteen Japanese maples and will add more again this year. (Been gardening almost as long as I have been keeping fish, and I've had fish for fifty years!) The Japanese have been pruning these trees forever, and you have to deal with allowing the tree to assume its natural height and width to maximize the beauty of its form. Anyway, not very exciting viewing, but it looks like Plant Amnesty has a lot of good Japanese pruning videos, and with maples, you need to decide which style of pruning you prefer. Give the plant some time to "speak to you" and you will see which stems to leave alone.

Here's a video link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vETbhB_6Gs

There are other videos suggested as viewing which may be more the "style" you are looking for. That looks like it will be a good sized maple! Enjoy it, they can have very subtle beauty, like contrasting bark or keys. Fall colour is exceptional! My first (Bloodgood) is now well past my second story window and just gets better every year.
 

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Haha! My first post to the forum. Anyway, I have about fifteen Japanese maples and will add more again this year. (Been gardening almost as long as I have been keeping fish, and I've had fish for fifty years!) The Japanese have been pruning these trees forever, and you have to deal with allowing the tree to assume its natural height and width to maximize the beauty of its form. Anyway, not very exciting viewing, but it looks like Plant Amnesty has a lot of good Japanese pruning videos, and with maples, you need to decide which style of pruning you prefer. Give the plant some time to "speak to you" and you will see which stems to leave alone.



Here's a video link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vETbhB_6Gs



There are other videos suggested as viewing which may be more the "style" you are looking for. That looks like it will be a good sized maple! Enjoy it, they can have very subtle beauty, like contrasting bark or keys. Fall colour is exceptional! My first (Bloodgood) is now well past my second story window and just gets better every year.

Yeah good suggestion, we would generally wait til they were in there permanent home a year before we pruned. And I didn't think about that, the Japanese are master gardeners, artists really, when it comes to these things. YouTubeing some traditional Japanese maple pruning vids isn't a bad plan.


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Algae Grower
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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Thanks for all the responses everyone. I feel much more confident about where I'm going with the tree now.

Not so much related to tree pruning but kinda cool none the less. Along the back of the house, someone started a ground cover next to a walkway that leads around to the side yard. Looks like:



I really like this stuff. Not sure what's it's called but it's really prolific. Came back after freezing temps and snow. Dealt with heat in the summer so far.

I just found more of it and I'm planning on doing a miniature rock garden in between the trees and along the side yard with this stuff as the ground cover. It should look just like an amano tank with hc.

anyone know what is?

Edit - I figured it out. I guess it's called ground cover mint. Can't find its real name though.

 

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What climatic zone are you in? It almost looks like baby's tears which is not hardy here at all. (I'm in Canada). Can you get a closer shot of the ground cover? If it will grow in Zone 6 I can likely ID it, but it looks finer leafed than anything we see here.

Ignore what I said, it is likely thyme, Genus Thymus. Perhaps T. vulgaris, or one of the multiple cultivars. There are many nice ones, and they all smell like thyme (I have one called "Doone Valley that has varied leaf colour like that one pictured). They tolerate foot traffic well too, and there is a cute wooly one. Mint family member, and they are all happy to root wherever they touch the ground. Generally purple flowers, but some cultivars are white - or pink - flowered.
 
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