Pruning the Japanese lace leaf maple (Acer palmatum dissectum) calls for thoughtfulness and care. Totally destroying the delicate finery the leaves and foliage of this tree present can be accomplished in the space of only a very few minutes of hasty and unthinking hacking. Considering the slow-growth characteristic of Japanese maples, this could spell disaster for a tree that often serves as the focal highlight of a landscape.
Four Seasons of Pruning
Before pruning Japanese lace leaf maple, it must be kept in mind that these trees are considered four-season trees. That is, for every season of the year, the Japanese lace leaf maple exhibits its special, unique beauty. Whether it is the anticipation of leaf buds in early spring, the delicate, lace-like foliage of the summer, the incredible turning colors of the fall leaves, or the graceful curves of bare limbs and trunk in the winter, this tree delights year round.
Although care and discretion must be used in pruning Japanese lace leaf maple, it is a job that must be done periodically. Pruning promotes healthy growth, helps guard against disease, and with some aptitude, people can encourage the limbs to grow in a desired direction, which adds to the tree’s already elegantly free-form, natural pattern of growth.
Always use only sharp, clean, well-oiled tools for pruning Japanese lace leaf maple. Wounds made from pruning heal over much more quickly when the cuts are cleanly made and even as opposed to rough, jagged tears made when dull, hard-to-operate tools are used. Oiling pruning shears enables them to open and close without catching, making the cuts smooth, one-stroke procedures.
Occasional sterilization cuts down on the risk of spreading disease when pruning Japanese lace leap maple. Wash tools in a mixture of one part bleach to 10 parts water, rinse well, allow to dry, and then apply light-grade machine oil to keep rust-free and in tip-top cutting shape.
The use of tree paint to cover freshly made cuts when pruning Japanese lace leap maple is no longer recommended. Allowing the wounds to air dry does more to discourage the growth of disease spores than does painting, which can actually promote it.
Taking out old, dead limbs and the discriminate elimination of the finer, twigs and stems in the center of the tree improve not only its longevity, but its beauty, as well. Pruning Japanese lace leaf maple judiciously gets rid of the hiding places insects and disease use, along with the warm, moist conditions inevitably produced, to eventually bring the tree to bad health. Proper cutting also exposes the natural grace of the tree, which is so coveted in the species of maple.
So there really is no great secret to pruning Japanese lace leaf maple, except to do it with a light hand and with the tree’s innate beauty in mind. Always remember that you can always go back and cut more, but you can never un-cut a limb, and considering how long these trees take to grow, that should keep you well in check during pruning time.