The Q&A Archives: Pruning tips for damaged maple tree

Question: I have a five year old red maple tree whose top branch broke off in a violent thunderstorm this fall. How do I prune the tree to get that classic maple shape back: Mafred Allyn Canaan, CT

Answer: You should immediately prune the broken limb back to the first set of lateral branches, says Vincent Cavalea, tree surgeon at the Bartlett Tree Expert Company in Stamford, Connecticut. Then if you need to balance the shape of the tree, shorten the topmost lateral branches by a few feet, he says. Eventually the tree will send up new vertical branches, and maybe lots of them. By pruning out all but one or two of these, you will reduce competition among them, and the ones you've selected will become strong leaders. The tree will slowly return to the conical maple shape, says CavaleA. Moderate feeding in spring with either mulch or a time release tree fertilizer plus weekly irrigation will foster vigorous regrowth.

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