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Maple Tree

The Best Time to Prune a Maple Tree

Late autumn to mid-winter.


Expert insight into the best time to prune a maple tree; why maple tree pruning is important, and how to identify common maple tree diseases.

The field maple tree is the only maple tree to be native to the UK. Of the Latin Acer campestre, this deciduous tree can grow to heights of 20 metres and is known to live up to 350 years. As with all maple trees, the sap can be used to produce maple syrup, and the wood is very popular in furniture making.

You’ll usually find the maple tree growing in hedgerows, on scrubland and in woodland, although it’s also a popular choice for parks and gardens thanks to its compact growing habit and its tolerance of pollution. The field maple tree is also much admired for the rich colour spectrum it treats us to during the autumn.

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Why prune a maple tree?       

The field maple has a tendency to grow very wide, so for smaller spaces it is essential to prune regularly and fairly rigorously. Maple tree pruning will stimulate thicker growth during the growing season that follows, so for those who are looking to boost the size of their field maple, again regular pruning is required.

The field maple makes a very good hedge plant as it grows strong and fast, but only with annual pruning. As a small tree, the field maple can withstand more regular trimming and shaping and in fact can be used to produce eye-catching topiary creations with cloud pruning being one of the most popular.

As with all trees, pruning reduces the chance of disease becoming an issue by boosting airflow and strengthening limbs. It also makes it easier for sunlight to penetrate which in turn boosts growth and generally improves the health of the tree.

When is the best time for maple tree pruning?

As a rule, the field maple should be pruned in late autumn to mid-winter. It is a very hardy tree, so winter pruning is not an issue; however pruning during freezing temperatures should be avoided.

Where you are growing your field maple tree as a hedge, you will need to keep it in check which means another pruning will be required during the year. Late May to early June is the best time for this. If it becomes necessary due to particularly rapid growth, you can prune your maple hedge again during the second part of September. This will keep it looking neat and tidy.

What to look for when pruning a maple tree

The field maple tree is prone to aphids, and horse chestnut scale may also pose a problem. Look out for white circular eggs masses covered by brown shells on the larger branches and the trunk. These will usually appear in early summer.

Gall mites are also a known issue. These are miniscule animals that cause abnormal growths. In most cases, the health of the tree will not be affected, but you may still wish to take steps to rid the tree of these pests. Look out for small reddish swellings on the leaf surface which will denote sycamore/maple pimple gall mites, or densely growing cream or pinkish-purple coloured hairs on the underside of the leaves, which are likely to be sycamore/maple felt gall mites.

As far as diseases are concerned, Verticillium wilt. This is a fungal disease that gets into the tree via the roots. The infection leads to wilting and yellowing leaves and dieback.

Tree Preservation Orders

You should never proceed with any tree work before finding out whether there is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in place. If there is, you must seek permission for the works. This will usually take up to eight weeks to come through. Furthermore, if the tree is situated in a conservation area, permission must be obtained before starting works of any kind.

The importance of maple tree pruning expertise

The field maple tree provides a very attractive focal point in any park or garden thanks to its stunning autumn colours, and it makes an excellent hedging plant too.

The attractiveness of your maple tree however is all dependent on the care it receives, and this includes how and when it is pruned. If you are looking to achieve a particular look for your field maple, or are unsure as to how to best care for it, the best thing to do is consult with a qualified tree surgeon.

Tree surgeons are trained to spot diseases and pest infestations and know precisely how to best deal with them. They are also aware of the best pruning methods for the particular varieties of field maple trees and will be able to advise you on the correct procedures for your particular tree so that you can get the most possible enjoyment and pleasure from it and of course, ensure its health for many years to come.

If you have a maple tree on your land that needs pruning, why not contact T.H. Tree Services? As fully qualified and extensively experienced tree surgeons, we are able to offer specialist knowhow and expertise in all aspects of maple tree pruning. For a free, no-obligation quotation, contact our friendly experts on 01268 642814 or get in touch here.

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