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How to Prune Bigleaf Maple

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) trees grow to an average of 50 feet tall but can get as high as 100 feet tall. It is an excellent shade tree and can grow in many soils, from moist to dry. The leaves are shiny, with dark green tops and there are small, greenish-yellow flowers that bloom in the early Spring. Prune bigleaf maple trees to keep them as healthy as possible. An occasional trim will also improve their shape.

Cut smaller branches with hand pruners and use a pruning saw for larger branches. Chain saws work on those that are more than 6 inches in diameter.

Climb a ladder and check out the shape of the tree. If there are branches that are too long or too close together, cut them with the pruning saw. Place the cut at the V-shaped connection it shares with another branch.

Use pruning saw to clear moderate crowding. This will reduce forking and branching, along with promote the tree to self-prune. Remove any branches that are facing the ground, from the bottom of the tree.

Remove tree branches that are damaged or diseased as soon as you see them. Fungi is a major source of decay for bigleaf maple but the problem can be curbed by cutting off the branches where they meet healthy limbs.


Things You Will Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Chain saw
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Ladder


  • Prune bigleaf maple in late autumn to mid winter. This is the species' dormant season, so pruning will not interfere with the tree's growth.
  • Wear gloves and goggles as protection.


  • Don't remove more than 25 percent of the bigleaf maple's crown. This can cause damage to the tree.

About the Author


Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.