How to Trim a Red Maple Tree


Red maple is a maple variety that is favored for landscape use across the United States. The tree is hearty from U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 3 to 9, and can be found throughout most of the United States. Red maples are among the first trees to turn red in the fall, the source of their name. The trees must be pruned when they are young to obtain a healthy shape. Pruning a red maple when it is young will reduce the need to prune it when the tree grows older.

Step 1

Time pruning from late fall through early spring when red maples are dormant. This will help the tree stay healthy.

Step 2

Sharpen pruning shears before pruning. Always make clean cuts while pruning so that the tree will heal quickly.

Step 3

Sterilize your pruning shears with bleach before pruning, between pruning individual trees and after cutting away diseased branches to avoid transmitting diseases.

Step 4

Remove the weaker leader, which is the tree's trunk, of a plant with a forking leader. To do this, prune away the weaker leader just outside of the split where the tree forks. Prune forked limbs at a 45-degree angle starting just outside the ridge of growth between the fork and sloping away from the tree.

Step 5

Prune away limbs that rub on others or cross the center of the tree's mass. Also, prune away branches that grow at weak, narrow angles or grow too closely to one another.

Step 6

Take away sucker growth and waterspouts. Sucker growth is growth that appears at the bottom of the tree. Suckers will steal the tree's energy and stunt its growth. Water spouts are tiny limbs that grow out of a larger limb of the tree.

Step 7

Remove all dead, damaged or diseased limbs.

Step 8

Head back tall branches by cutting them just above an active bud. This will help preserve a red maple's rounded shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Sharpener
  • Bleach


  • NC State Univesity: Red Maple
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Acer rubrum 'Red Sunset': 'Red Sunset' Red Maple
  • Minnesota State Univesity Extension: Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • North Dakota State University Extension: Questions On: Red Maple
Keywords: pruning decidious trees, training maple trees, red maple care

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."