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I have a maple tree I planted maybe 2 years ago. It seems to be doing well, but has a weird thing where there is no leafs growing on the top stems of the tree. Do I need to trim this to promote vertical growth? Should I just leave it? What exactly is going on here?

Autumn Blaze Maple, Colorado front range

Acer x freemanii 'Jeffersred'

maple1

maple2

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Just leave it be. Maples have a strong leader and trimming it on the top will only cause it to leaf out multiple leaders with weaker attachment points. You should check by making a tiny scrape in the bark that there is green living tissue underneath.

You can also take a look where the leader joins the rest of the branches to see if there is new growth there. That would indicate the leader is dead.

Likely just watering more is all the tree needs, roll back any grass a few feet from the trunk as well to reduce competition

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