I have a 3-year old Japanese Maple that is partially bare this Spring. There is some vigorous growth at the bottom and another branch at the top, but most of the top is bare. I have waited thinking it might still develop leaves on these bare branches, but as it is now nearing the end of May, I fear I am not going to get any more growth. Should I prune?
Unless you see evidence of insect activity (curling of the leaves, hole in the branches with dust around, sooty mold etc.), your maple tree may have just suffered from too much cold or heat. Pruning back the dead branches is your best bet. You’ll know if the branch is dead by scratching the surface of the wood – if there is no evidence of green wood underneath the first layer of bark the branch is dead. Cut back any dead limbs. The result may be more shrub like but your tree should be fine!
Have a look at our Japanese Maple guide for further reading: