How to Prune a Japanese Laceleaf Maple

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Looking to prune your Japanese laceleaf maple? Check out this blog post for tips on the best time to prune, how to prune, and what to expect after pruning.

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Pruning a Japanese laceleaf maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum) is essential to maintaining its graceful, weeping form and vibrant foliage. These beautiful trees are relatively slow growers, so pruning is typically only necessary every 2-3 years. However, if you want to encourage a more compact form or achieve a specific shape, annual pruning may be necessary. Read on to learn how and when to prune your Japanese laceleaf maple for optimal health and appearance.

##When to Prune
The best time to prune your Japanese laceleaf maple is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This will give you a clear view of the tree’s structure and allow you to make precise cuts without damaging new buds or interfering with the tree’s natural growth patterns.

##How to Prune
Start by removing any dead, diseased, or crossing branches using clean, sharp pruning shears. Cut branches back to just above where they emerge from the trunk or main limb. Next, thin out the canopy by cutting back some of the longer branches. This will improve air circulation and allow more sunlight to reach the tree’s inner branches. Finally, remove any suckers or water sprouts that are growing from the trunk or main limbs. These vigorous vertical growths can weaken the tree and detract from its overall appearance.

With proper care, your Japanese laceleaf maple will provide years of beauty in your landscape. For more information on pruning and caring for these stunning trees, contact your local extension office or professional arborist

What You’ll Need

-Hand pruners
-Lopping shears
-Pruning saw

Before you start pruning your Japanese Laceleaf maple, it’s important to understand the different types of cuts you can make. There are three main types of cuts: thinning, heading, and rejuvenation.

Thinning cuts are made to remove entire branches back to the trunk or to a lateral branch. These cuts are typically made to increase airflow and light penetration, and to reduce the weight of heavy branches.

Heading cuts are made to shorten branches. These cuts stimulate new growth, so they’re often used to create a fuller, denser plant.

Rejuvenation cuts are made to remove all the foliage from a branch back to bare wood. These drastic cuts stimulate new growth and can be used to revive an overgrown or neglected plant.

The Right Time of Year to Prune

Fall is the best time to prune a Japanese laceleaf maple because the plant is preparing for winter dormancy. Pruning in late fall gives the plant time to heal before spring growth begins.

Steps to Prune a Japanese Laceleaf Maple

Even though laceleaf maples are small trees, they require pruning to keep them looking their best. Luckily, pruning a laceleaf maple is not difficult, and with a little bit of practice, you will be able to master the technique. The steps below will show you how to prune a Japanese laceleaf maple.

1. The first step is to identify the parts of the tree that need to be pruned. Laceleaf maples typically have three main types of branches: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary branches are the thickest and heaviest branches, while secondary and tertiary branches are thinner and lighter. Usually, it is only necessary to prune the secondary and tertiary branches.

2. Once you have identified the branches that need to be trimmed, it is time to start cutting. Using sharp pruning shears, make a clean cut at an angle just above a node (the point where two leaves are attached). Try to avoid cutting too close to the node, as this can damage the tree.

3. Repeat step 2 until all of the secondary and tertiary branches have been trimmed.

4. Once all of the unwanted branches have been removed, you can shape the tree by trimming the remaining primary branches. As with the secondary and tertiary branches, make sure to cut at an angle just above a node.

5. To finish, clean up any loose leaves or twigs that may be littering the ground beneath the tree


Pruning a Japanese laceleaf maple is a necessary part of keeping the tree healthy and attractive. Though it may seem daunting at first, pruning is actually quite simple once you know the basic principles. With a little patience and practice, you’ll be an expert in no time!

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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