Maple Trees

Thinning Out Maple Trees

dianandjim added on July 17, 2011 | Answered

I planted some maple tree seedlings (silver maple, I believe) last year and now they are about 4 feet tall with 3 separate trunks and the leaves start about a foot off the ground. . . so it looks more like a bush. Should I cut 2 trunks, or will they eventually grow together? What time of the year should I trim, and how?

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on July 20, 2011

They will not grow together, so if you are looking for a single trunk tree, then yes you need to choose 2 to cut. But, you may not want to. Multi trunk trees will grow just as tall and healthy as single trunk trees, but are visually more interesting. I have a magnolia and a maple myself that are multi trunked and they both look stunning in summer and winter.

But, if you are looking for a single trunk tree, the best time to prune is in late winter to very early spring. Because this is a maple tree, you will see some sap oozing when you prune. This is not a cause for concern and is natural. You should not seal the cuts as this can harm the tree.

Depending on the thickness of the trunks, use a clean, sharp pair of lopers or a saw to simply cut them off. You may want to leave a few inches of the removed trunk on the tree as cuts flush to the ground or to the connecting wood can make it easier for disease to get into the cuts.

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