A Red Maple needs little pruning. When it is needed to keep the tree healthy and properly shaped, prune when the tree is dormant (late fall or winter). This gives the tree time to heal while pests and moisture related diseases are less of a threat. Most pruning should be done while the tree is young; it will recover more quickly.
Prune Red Maple
Mix a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water in a bucket. Use the solution to clean the blades of your shears and loppers after every cut to prevent possibly spreading disease from one area to another.
Prune dead or diseased branches as soon as you notice them. Waiting until winter increases the chance of the disease spreading. Discard these limbs by burning or placing them in the garbage. Do not use them in a compost pile or leave them under the tree.
Do not prune the tree during the first year of growth. This is when all of the tree's energy is focused on building its root system. Pruning will stress the tree. If the roots are not fully established, pruning will divert energy away from the roots and to healing the cuts.
Cut lower branches that may be or will be dangerous to people when the tree is grown. All branches should be more than 6 feet above the ground for safety reasons. The cuts should be made starting at the collar of the branch, close to the trunk of the tree and ending at an angle that is vertical with the ground. Use a sharp tool to make clean cuts. This will cause less damage to the tree.
Prune young trees by cutting any branches that intersect each other and cutting off a few inches of the height each year for a couple of years. Intersecting branches can cause damage to each other if left to grow large and they don't look nice either. For the crown, cut off 2 to 4 inches from a bud. This will encourage two branches to come from the one and make your tree fuller.
Prune sprouts coming out the trunk of older trees. Older trees are considered those over 3 years old. These trees need only dead and diseased branches removed consistently. If the tree is very full so it is not getting the proper air circulation, you may need to thin out some of the smaller branches inside every now and then.