The Q&A Archives: Pruning A Dwarf Japanese Maple Tree

Question: We have what we believe to be a Dwarf Japanese Maple Tree in our front yard right below our livingroom window (our house faces the south). The tree was here when we bought the house three years ago and we have never pruned it. It seems to grow outward rather than upward and it is now growing to close to the house. It seems to be crowded on the side closest to the house. It looks like the buds are starting and I don't want to ruin the tree and I need to know when the best time to prune it would be. I know that the maple trees bleed and I really don't want to have it make a mess of the siding on the house. Any suggestions?

Answer: Unfortunately, it sounds like the tree was planted too close to the building.The tree is growing outward in an attempt to reach more light, a normal growth pattern for trees planted next to buildings. Many of the "cute" little Japanese maples eventually grow to be trees in the twenty foot range and the species itself is in the forty foot range. Most of the finely dissected leaf forms mature to about eight feet however. You could try pruning it during the summer, to avoid an outpouring of the clear sap. Alternatively, and if the tree is not too large yet, you might consider transplanting it either this fall or very early next spring.

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