Thoughtful pruning of Japanese Maples

These two maples create a wonderful experience at the entry of this home.  In past years they had been sheared into a ball but then let to grow out again.  It left a lot of die-back in the interior.  I pruned out the dead branches, removed crossing branches and unruly growth especially around the eaves of the house.

Before Pruning and Cleaning out of dead wood
Tree on the right has been pruned
After photo of Pruned Japanese Maples


Japanese Maple Spring Pruning

Japanese Maple before spring pruning
Japanese Maple after spring pruning - beautiful trunk, branches and wonderful light!

Upon first glance, it might be hard to even tell this is a tree not a large shrub. Under previous ownership, it use to be sheared every year into a round ball. Now the goal is to have a more natural shaped canopy as well as open it up so the interesting branches and trunk can be viewed. Oh, and look like an actual tree!

You will notice in the “before” picture how dark it is under the tree and how you can’t even see the branches or trunk but in the “after” picture, dappled light makes the whole garden seems lighter and breathe easier. I admit I pruned the juniper in the background as well but that is another story!

This is a familiar scenario –Large Japanese maple, close to the house with the original design intent long forgotten. It may take a few years of spring and winter pruning to get the tree back to looking like a tree and not a lolly pop but each season I am more impressed with how the tree is revealing its true essence.


Hello Maple

Fellow Certified Aesthetic Pruner Yuki Nara will often refer to Laceleaf Maples that are related to the entrance of a home or garden as a “Hello Maple” or even a “Goodby Maple”.  This is what they seem to say to you as you come or go.  This Laceleaf Maple in San Mateo Highlands definitely says “Hello!” With spring pruning complete it is all set for the summer to greet people at the front door with grace and a few dramatic shadows on the rock below.

Laceleaf Maple before spring pruning
Laceleaf Maple
Laceleaf Maple before spring pruning.
Laceleaf Maple after spring pruning. Hello!

Lace Leaf Maple

Lace leaf maple before spring pruning

April is a great time to do detailed pruning on Lace Leaf Maples (Acer dissectum).  Its important to wait until the new leaves have hardened up but once they do its time to reveal the beautiful trunk structure of the tree.  I always save a few branches for vases  because the leaves are so beautiful this time of year before the sun and hot weather of summer take their toll. This is the first spring pruning for the maple in these pictures. Unlike many lace leaf maples this one is very compact so I have been careful to reveal just the right amount of trunk so it does not look so “busy” inside.  The long term goal for this tree is to reduce the clutter of branches as well as replant the tree so the crown of the trunk is not buried so deep in the ground.

Lace leaf maple after spring pruning


California spring rains. Unusual and lovely with all the new bright green grown.  I will be rubbing off new buds of my curly willow so I don’t have to prune them off later.  The tree will self prune if I don’t and I may loose some new branches that I might want to keep. Such a wild and crazy tree! I love it.