Pruning Japanese maple tree

(Question)

Hi,
I would like to start by thanking people who answered me back last time. I wrote in May because I thought my Japanese maple died.
Now I know it is not completely dead but I am not sure if I should prune more than half of the tree since all the top branches look dead to me. I scratched slightly the branches and I don’t see anything green underneath, only the lower part. The tree was huge before and I have already cut some of the branches. Should I prune all the top of the tree? I added a picture to help you see how my Japanese maple looks like right now.

(Answer)

 

We did have a very severe winter (2015), so it is likely that your tree experienced severe winter damage.

To find out the extent of the damage, use your fingernail to gently scrape the bark on the branches and trunk, starting at the tips and working back toward the base of the tree, until you see green, healthy wood below the bark.

If you do find healthy green wood, prune the tree back to that point and wait for it revive. The result may be more shrub-like but your tree should be fine!

I would also fertilize your tree with 30-10-10 tree shrub fertilizers, available from your local garden center. Make sure to follow directions on the package.

Here is a link to our Gardening Guide on Growing Japanese Maples