Trident maple in the ground, taper from the chop

I chopped this trident down in March, and when the new leader was strong enough, I was able to carve the taper into it. This can be an elusive concept, but Brent’s article on trunk growing made an impact, with an added step, which made sense, particularly this excerpt:

“How to Make the Cuts
I’ve been doing trunk cuts for some years now and can report what I have learned. At first I did 45 degree cuts as recommended by most books. In fact I spent a lot of time carving the crater shapes at the same time. I have come to the conclusion that this is mostly a waste of time. I now just give them a perpendicular whack, and save the angle cuts and carving for later, after the dieback is complete.”
–Brent Walston, Evergreen Gardenworks




The cut is flat across the top, but the new leader is identified.
Now, in July, its pointed up, growing strong, and it's time to add taper to the section of trunk:


Carving away the wedge to add taper, rough-cut with a saw, then nipped away with root cutters.



Sealed up and ready to roll:

Small branches are at the base of the cut on the right, behind the cut, and at the junction of the first and second trunk sections. They will be allowed to remain, but not get too big. They’ll either become main branches, or removed before they get too big to leave a scar. The photos are taken from the planned front, which needs to be kept clean of scars.

Next week, a little summer root work on this one…


9 thoughts on “Trident maple in the ground, taper from the chop

  1. Good stuff Brian, love seeing what ur doing. how long do u think it will take for the scar in the back to shrink up?

  2. When doing such a drastic trunk chop in spring Brian, do you have to have buds below it..for deciduous trees in general?

    1. Generally for deciduous trees, and particularly for tridents, a drastic trunk chop in the spring should result in lots of back-budding. The problem is with the lack of control over where those buds appear.

      Al suggested keeping all of the buds, but keep them small until you know you don’t need them, so the scars are smaller.

      On this one, I had a shoot where I wanted it…the placement provided good movement for the front that showed the best nebari. This second section has doubled in size over the last 2 months, and I’ll likely need to chop it again in the spring.

      1. Thanks Brian, that’s what I thought. I’ve got a JM that I want to chop back, but no lower buds. It was very convenient that you had a shoot where you wanted the new leader.

        I also have a ch elm, and a trident that are about 6.5′ Tx 1.5″ trunk. I’m trying to decide whether I should cut them back, or leave them grow another season for a thicker trunk. (though they’d be like 15′ lol)

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