Red Maple Tree Maintenance: Damaged Limbs

The red maple tree is a beautiful landscape tree and if its limbs become damaged following a storm, you should carefully prune the tree to avoid causing further damage. Pruning, as regular maintenance, is a good idea to keep maple trees a manageable size. 

When to Prune

Normally, it's recommended to prune a maple tree only when the leaves are fully mature because maple trees leak sap when their branches are cut and there will be less sap if you prune the branches of a mature tree. However, if the tree has become damaged you should prune right away.  

How to Prune

The first step is to remove all dead or damaged branches. It's important that you remove these branches before pruning live ones in order to better visualize how you want the tree to look after pruning. This will also help you determine how to cut the live branches.  

Before you start cutting, decide which branches you want to cut. Some branches will be weaker and more likely to break. Start with branches that are rubbing together or growing inward and crossing other branches. Also, look for large branches that are growing at narrow angles off the main trunk.  

Remove larger branches first, by cutting all the way through the branch about 12 inches from the main trunk. Cut the branch in 2 stages. First, cut underneath the branch, moving upward. The second cut should start on the top and move down toward the first cut. This ensures the weight of the branch is dissipated and that you can finish cutting the rest of the branch without having to deal with its full weight.

If you want to stop the bark from peeling, cut the stub of the branch in 1 cut, moving downward and away from the tree trunk.  When removing large branches, try not to leave stubs behind because stubs may encourage rot and disease. When pruning the branches, remember to trim all the way back to the main trunk or to 1 of the larger lateral branches. When trimming small branches, cut down to the bud by cutting at a slight angle just above the bud. This will allow the tree to heal faster.  

It's also important to thin some of the smaller branches on the tree to increase the amount of light that the tree receives through the foliage. Thinning will also help the tree keep its natural shape. For larger, mature maple trees you won't need to prune away too many branches.  


  • For a newly planted maple tree, water the tree weekly with at least 1 1/2 inches of water for the first 5 years.
  • It's very easy to winterize a red maple tree. All you have to do is fertilize around the roots in early November and water the tree thoroughly before the ground freezes.  

The red maple is a deciduous broad leaf tree that can grow very large, up to 100 feet. In most yards, the red maple tree will grow about 60 feet high. Regular pruning and trimming of a maple tree is a good way to control its growth and ensure the tree looks beautiful for many years.