I have a maple tree that's poorly placed. Maples grow too wide and it's starting to crowd the house and other plants. A tree that grows tall and narrow would have been a better choice. But before I spend the time and money moving it or tearing it out, I want to investigate if it's possible to prune it so that it grows a little taller and a little narrower.

Here's a picture of the tree:

Maple Tree

I'd like to prune it so that all the limbs under the red lines are removed:

Maple Tree pruning plan

Will the tree still grow decently if I do this? As a follow up question, can a Maple tree this large be transplanted successfully?

  • Trees larger than that are successfully moved using" Vermeer" equipment. Aug 7 '19 at 3:21

You can certainly remove some complete lower branches to give you more headroom under the tree. If you remove part of a large branch, either the remaining stump will just die back, or the tree will start growing a new branch to replace the missing one, neither of which is what you want.

But you can't change the basic shape of how the tree wants to grow, and pruning the bottom branches won't stop the top spreading wider.

If you still want to try, the best time to prune maples is just after the leaf buds have burst in spring. At any other time of the year you will get a lot of sap "bleeding" from the cuts. That won't harm a mature tree in the long term, but it doesn't look pretty. The tree will "bleed" even if you prune in it winter when it is apparently dormant and leafless.

Forming the new leaves in spring reduces the fluid pressure in the tree's sap, and the amount of bleeding.

  • I would not prune in late summer or fall as that may encourage new growth which would be damaged by freezing weather , I would not take off more than 25 % at one time . The "juice" flows Jan, Feb, Mar and stops as soon as buds swell/burst , then the sap begins to flow . The maple syrup juice is something different from sap. Aug 6 '19 at 20:09

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