I have a one year old 9 foot tall silver maple tree. It's growing nicely but has a crotch about 4 feet off the ground. I don't know if I should leave it as is or trim one of the crotches. They both look like feeder shoots. Can you please advise me. Thank you
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Begin pruning your silver maple to encourage branching when it is young. Choose the most vertical shoot as the tree’s leader, or trunk and remove multiple leaders that may compete for nourishment and encourage multiple “V”-shaped branching.
Remove branches that grow straight away from the main trunk or in angles of 30 degrees or less -- branches that grow away from the trunk, or leader, in angles between 60 and 70 degrees make the sturdiest structural branches. These upright growers can develop dense crowns of long, weak branches, so open the crown by removing branches that lay across others. Remove competing structural branches that grow closer than 6 to 12 inches to others on the trunks of young trees and “water sprouts,” branches that grow straight up in bunches along larger branches.
Trim branches back to nodes -- the bumps produced by spring growth at the end of branches. New branching occurs at nodes when you prune back the growing tips. Trim back branches that grow too far beyond the crown and pinch back growing tips to encourage branching. Raise the crown to admit air and raise leaves above soil-borne fungi and bacteria pathogens. Remove branches so that the crown is about three times as tall as the trunk. Pruning stresses your tree; never remove more than one-third of the volume of its crown, and fertilize after pruning.
Maples “bleed” heavily beginning in early spring, so schedule regular maintenance pruning when the trees are fully dormant in late winter before the sap starts running.