Clean Out: Remove branches which are dead, broken, crossing (within reason — some crossing may be unavoidable). Shape or layer: Create “clouds” & spaces between them. The decisions about which branch to cut are more intentional than the random cutting in the earlier steps, but the technique is the same — removing one branch at a time at its base and observing how much it thins the density there. The first is to prune off lower limbs that crowd other low-growing shrubs or possibly impede a walkway. If you need to snip or saw off larger dead branches, do so, but remember they can be quite brittle. You can choose to open up those thinner areas a bit more, creating some separation between the denser zones — gaps between the "clouds.". The trick to pruning this type of Japanese maple is to allow its top layer to form a sort of canopy over the Or, do you want to open up a dense tree (usually a good idea), or make an open tree a bit less leggy? Exactly what you prune out of your Japanese maple will depend upon the variety of tree you have. After planting, prune out broken branches and those with weak or narrow crotches. Then you’ve successfully pruned it, and now you have an idea of what to do in the future to keep it healthy and looking spectacular! We recommend making a reservation to visit us. Can you start to see through much more than when you started? It might look like a hopeless tangle at first, but have faith — Rome wasn’t pruned in a day, but one cut at a time. Every tree has a geometric shape and a direction or pattern in which the branches flow. There are unfortunate examples out there of Japanese maples which have been sheared or pruned way too aggressively. Many of the principles also apply to other trees and shrubs. When maples are pruned in late winter or early spring the wounds can be more damaging. Or more horizontal instead of downward. Minimize any dead-end stubs. If you can't get that information, you can still get clues about what it wants to do by observing its habit over recent history. When pruning a lace leaf, the shape should form a canopy while when pruning an upright leaf, the shape you come out in a fan-style. I constantly (if subconsciously) ask myself three questions when pruning: Determining what the tree wants is a combination of research and observation. Cut a few branches randomly out of this dense zone, then notice what difference it makes in the density. Don't remove every last tiny branch inside the tree — the goal is to improve the transparency, not hollow it out completely. Japanese Maples are such beautiful trees. To prune the upright Japanese Maple tree, you need to follow 4 major steps. You can see through the thinner areas easier. Does your tree seem to “breathe” easier? Clean out and thin this zone to make it less dense (details below), then... "Where shall I cut next?" If heavy sap flow occurs, pruning should be delayed until it stops or wait until midsummer. Or removing certain branches growing through the middle of the plant to encourage a more open habit. You may realize that instead of cutting three small branches, you could get the same result by tracing back to the origin of those branches and cutting one larger branch. You will receive a confirmation email soon. 2) If you are new to this, especially for very dense trees, you might first try thinning it in winter (late Nov. - Feb in our region) when you can more easily see the branching structure. Try to anticipate the direction of future growth. A small container will dwarf the size of the tree from the size the tree would naturally be in the landscape. Work from the inside out, bottom to top, small branches before larger. 2. The weeping forms, especially in full sun, can grow into opaque, amorphous mounds, inviting such unflattering nicknames as “mushroom” or “Cousin It.”. 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