Start pruning the maple tree when the leaves are fully grown. Most trees are pruned in early spring, but pruning maple trees a little later keeps their sticky sap from being a messy problem. First, remove any dead and damaged branches, which are characterized by drooping and weak limbs.
Prune a maple tree by removing dead branches and damaged branches first. Start with large branches and work down to the smaller ones. Use shears or a chain saw as needed. Pruning a maple tree not only makes it more attractive and trains its expansion, but also energizes its growth.
After these branches are removed, look at the tree and decide what other branches need to be pruned for a clean, attractive tree. Once this is determined, cut off the big branches first. Cut halfway through the branch from one side, and cut down from the other side until the two cuts meet. After the branch is removed, cut the stump so it is flush with the rest of the tree.
After pruning away the bigger branches, remove some of the smaller branches. Avoid removing all of the small branches, but prune enough to tame the tree and allow light and airflow to the remaining limbs.
Make sure that the pruning implement is sharp enough to make clean cuts, as these heal more quickly and look nicer. Cutting at an angle as near to the trunk or remaining branch as possible aids in recovery. Sterilize the shears between uses to avoid spreading disease and fungus between plants. Be careful not to over prune the tree, as that can weaken it and it may take years for the tree to fully recover. Focus on pruning dead branches or branches that threaten to become entangled with each other or surrounding structures, such as power lines.
While the tree may leak sap from its wounds, these heal and should not be considered a problem. Some experts suggest painting over open wounds to more quickly seal them and prevent diseases or pests from entering the tree. However, other horticulturalists believe that the maple tree can reliably seal and repair its own wounds without an artificial bandage.