Carbondale Public Library hosts Japanese maple informative meeting

March 9, 2023

The Evergreen Garden Club held an informative program on pruning Japanese maple trees March 4 at the Carbondale Public Library’s Japanese Garden. Not only were club members attending this meeting, but library staff and local residents of Carbondale joined in for the fun.

David Robson, an educator from the University of Illinois Extension, demonstrated various techniques and tips on how to keep Japanese maple trees shaped and healthy.

Robson began this demonstration by showing off the various Japanese maples that grow within the small garden outside of Carbondale’s public library. Most of the plants were in their off season meaning no blooms or leaves would be found on the branches of the trees and shrubs. The Japanese maples were no exception and each branch was left barren aside from a few branches towards the top beginning to grow new leaves as the spring season began to roll around.


Tree pruning is the practice of selectively removing branches, stems and foliage from a tree. It is an important part of tree maintenance and is essential for the health and safety of the tree.

Pruning can help to improve the overall structure and appearance of the tree, as well as reducing hazards posed by low-hanging branches and dead wood. Pruning can also be used to improve the overall health of the tree, as it can help to reduce pests and diseases, as well as promote new healthy growth.

Proper pruning techniques are important to ensure the best results, and it is important to know the right time of year to prune each type of tree. This process was enacted on three different occasions by Robson.

As he began to prune the Japanese maples, he informed the crowd of some tips and tricks to make note of when pruning any trees, whether indoors or outdoors.

“Start out by pruning the trees in the late winter or early spring months before new growth begins and remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches first,” Robson said. “Follow up by using sharp tools to prevent bark tears and make sure to prune away any branches that are rubbing against each other, but be careful not to remove too much… around 25% or so should be the stopping point.”

This process is what many should take into consideration when pruning trees to keep them healthy and, as Robson demonstrated, slowly but surely cutting away dead and damaged branches to make room for new growth. He passed around a few branches, one dead and one healthy to show the difference between the two, so others are able to make the same distinction if the need may arise.

The dead branch had little to no color and was more brittle to the touch whereas the healthy branch was more flexible and had a more varying color palette.


He continued with his demonstration by illustrating that clean cuts are best when pruning so as to avoid leaving stubs and ruining the growth pattern. Another factor one might consider when tree trimming is pruning in an even shape and looking for weak spots to completely utilize the practice of pruning.

“Consider the future growth of the tree when pruning and plan cuts accordingly,” Robson said.

The demonstration finished with Robson pruning the third and final tree that contained a larger sap amount than normal, so he used this as an educational talking point.

“My philosophy has always been sap is washing itself out rather than leaking from our mistakes,” Robson finished, informing others of the importance of sap maintaining these trees’ health and to keep sap content in mind for future reference.


Staff reporter and photographer Mo Collar can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram at @m0.alexander. 



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