How to Prune a Red Maple Tree


Red maple trees (Acer rubrum Linnaeus) feature vivid red foliage in the fall; for this reason, they're popular landscape trees. Red maple trees benefit from annual pruning to remove unhealthy wood and shape the tree. Maple trees can bleed when pruned in the early spring; while this doesn't harm the tree, it can create a sticky mess. To avoid the messy bleeding, prune your red maple tree in the late spring after leaves have developed.

Step 1

Check for dead, damaged and diseased branches on your red maple tree. Diseased and damaged branches have wounds, lesions, discoloration or scarring. Deadwood feels brittle. This wood needs to be removed for the health of the tree.

Step 2

Prepare a sanitizing solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Place your pruning tools in the bucket. Remove all the deadwood and unhealthy wood by cutting it off at the base or pruning back to a healthy branching intersection. In between each cut, sanitize your tools by dipping them in the bleach solution; this prevents spreading disease through the tree.

Step 3

Trim off any low-growing branches that impede movement under the tree, as well as any branches that grow downward.

Step 4

Head back long limbs on your red maple tree. Cut them back to a Y-intersection or a swollen tissue node.

Step 5

Remove crossed branches from the tree canopy and branches that grow vertically. This increases air circulation and prevents wood damage from the friction of the crossed branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Anvil pruners
  • Lopping shears
  • Hand saw
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Bucket


  • University of Missouri: Pruning and Care of Shade Trees
  • Cornell University: Red Maple Tree
Keywords: red maple tree, maple tree pruning, prune a tree, prune red maple

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.