How to Prune Rocky Mountain Maple

Overview

The Rocky Mountain maple is a small deciduous tree that has a narrow crown. It is a delicate tree that is shade tolerant. At maturity, it can reach a height of 25 feet. Often it appears as a multi-stemmed (having one main stem) shrub reaching a height of 5 to 6 1/2 feet. The Rocky Mountain maple is native to the western Great Plains and westward to Oregon, Washington and mountains of Utah. It is hardy in zones 4 to 7. Prune a deciduous tree to remove any broken or diseased branches or limbs, to maintain and manage it within your landscape design, to provide safe surroundings (walkways, structures, roofs), and to remove deadwood from the crown of the tree. The tool selection for pruning will depend upon the branch or limb location and size.

Step 1

Prune away any dead, diseased or damaged branches as soon as possible. Make a clean cut for proper healing. Branches and limbs that are not pruned properly create an entry point for disease. Pruning can be done at anytime during the year.

Step 2

Maintain the size of your tree or hedge within your landscape design, and insure safety by locating and pruning the undesired branches. Note: Branches rubbing on your roof can cause damage, which might lead to a leaky roof. Visually inspect your tree and determine what branches need pruning.

Step 3

Locate the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (this is on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk). Make a clean cut in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar. Be careful not to leave a stub, and do not cut into the branch collar or the branch bark ridge, this must be left intact for the health of the tree. This pruning procedure should be done when the tree is dormant, which is in early spring, late fall, or winter.

Step 4

Inspect the crown of the tree for dead twigs, dead branches, dead limbs and crossover branches. The deadwood should be cut out--this is called "thinning." Because of the height involved, this pruning procedure is normally done by a professional tree service. The service's on-staff certified arborists are knowledgeable as to what branches can be cut, making sure that the health and appearance of the tree will not be compromised.

Tips and Warnings

  • Caution should be taken when removing large limbs as there is the possibility of personal injury or property damage--know your limitations. Never prune branches that are near electrical wires. This should be done by the electric company.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw
  • Hedge shears

References

  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Utah State University Forestry Extension
  • Utah State University
Keywords: Rocky Mountain maple prune, deciduous tree branches, remove dead diseased limbs

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.