Q: I had a sugar maple planted about 9 to 11 years ago. I personally want a Maple tree to grow tall first. From what I understand, if you top a tree, you stunt its height. If you trim some of the lower branches, you force the tree to shoot higher. Am I correct in saying this?
A: Art Morris at Bartlett Tree Experts says:
“You are correct: if the lower limbs of a young tree are pruned the tree naturally re-allocates resources into growth on the unpruned portions in the upper canopy. To encourage upward growth I suggest removing or subordinating (shortening) the branches in the lower half or third of the canopy. Remember not to remove more than 25 percent of the tree’s foliage in any one year. The attached technical report that covers young tree pruning may help.