The weather today lent itself quite well to yard work, which is nice as we still hadn’t cleaned up the mess from the wind storm earlier this week. Tara started with just raking up the driveway, and we quickly moved to spraying the moss on the walk way with iron (a good, low impact, way to kill moss). Then on to pruning our maple in the front yard. Normally, pruning japanese maples should be done either right after leaf fall, or in mid-summer. But, we’re impatient, and I figure since we’re sealing the wounds, bleeding should be minimal.
We removed about 1/4 of the total foliage I would guess. But, I would say after 3 years of doing this, we now have a maple that looks presentable (at least skeleton wise). We will have to see what it looks like once it leafs out.
You might think it looks spartan (below image), but given what it used to look like, a giant blob (gumdrop, right image), this is a huge improvement. This is more what you would expect from a japanese maple you’d see at a Japanese garden somewhere. I’m no expert, but I know the basic theory of removing crossing branches, parallel branches, branches that move directly toward or away from the viewer, and opening up the structure to allow the viewer to admire the structure of the tree. We also removed or trimmed branches to keep the leaves off the ground when it does leaf out (this was an issue last year).
Overall, the goal is to produce a tree that looks like an older, larger, more mature version of itself or similar tree.
Not sure if we succeeded, but we do believe it looks better. My only hope is that we didn’t open it up so much that we get bark scalding during the summer, but that shouldn’t be an issue since it will be leafed out enough by then, as well as the fact that it barely gets any direct sun anyway. We have Douglas fir’s that shield it from the south sun. It gets a bit of late evening sun, but that shouldn’t be an issue either.
Also pruned the Rhododendron next to the lamp post in this picture (it was rather blob-ish). This should cut down on the aphid infestations it gets during the summer. Aphids tend to dislike airflow. Also gave all the rhodie’s in the yard a spray of iron to help with chlorosis.
I’ll try to remember to post some more photos once the maple leafs out and we see how it looks. So, expect more on this in about 4-5 months. =)
UPDATE: Here is a picture of the maple after it has leafed out. You can really see how the width has been reduced from the 2008 picture above. You can see the trunk line in the image as well as the first branch comes off at just about the perfect height (it’s a bit low, as it should be at 1/3rd of the way up the tree, but it’s not bad). While it needs a bit more refining, it’s pretty close to where I’d like it to be from now on. I also need to clean up a couple wounds on the tree. I’ll need to get some concave cutters, and hollow out the stump and seal up the wound. Hopefully I’ll take care of this during the summer. Try to get some “cut paste” to seal the wound, and make it match. There is a hole in the canopy that can’t be seen from the front that needs to fill in as well, since heavy sun on the wood of a maple like this can cause scalding, and the death of the branch. I’ve wrapped it with some trunk wrap for now, hoping that it won’t burn before the hole fills in. All and all, it’s taken 3 years to get this far, and from now on, it should just be simple maintenance. I think it should look even better once the new mulch rots a bit and turns “black”.