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How to Prune a Red Maple Tree

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Prune red maple trees annually.
the red maple image by Oleg Mitiukhin from Fotolia.com

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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 Will Need

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


  • Saw large limbs with a handsaw. Cut small wood with anvil pruners and growth thicker than 3/4 inch in diameter with lopping shears.

About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.