My house came with a dwarf Japanese maple, which was damaged last fall when we had our roof done. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the tree broke off when a bunch of roofing debris fell on it, as below:


I had assumed that the tree was a goner and was starting to think about how to pull it up and replace it this spring, but then I noticed that it's alive and budding:


Now that I know that the tree survived the damage, I want to help it thrive and hopefully look good again. So, two questions:

  1. Is there anything special I should do to help the remaining half flourish?
  2. How can I maximize the beauty of this tree's new shape? Can I somehow turn the odd shape and broken trunk into features instead of flaws?

If it's relevant, I'm in the northeastern US.

1 Answer 1


The first thing I would do would be to prune the stubs back to the growth collar at their bases, as shown in the photo below. enter image description here EDIT - I missed a stub at the very top of the tree. Take that one out too.

Next, I'd even out the cut of the stub (where I point the arrow) and cut the broken branch back to the growth color (see below)

enter image description here

This pruning is essential for the health of the tree (notice that it has rot where the large stub was left by the prior owner) - (second stub on the photo).

I would definitely do this pruning ASAP, so that the tree doesn't waste energy putting out branches on the stubs that you'll be pruning out.

The next step is easy - do nothing for the rest of the growing season. Let the tree put out its new growth as it sees fit.

In the fall (after leaf drop), evaluate the look of the tree. You can then begin shaping it by cutting out any growth from this year that you think does not enhance the little tree's beauty. You may decide that you like the gnarled, bonsai-like look of the tree and use that shape as your guide.

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