I'm pretty sure my husband would preferred had I NOT pruned the Japanese maples out front, but the combination of overgrown shrubbery and pregnancy hormones were more than I could resist. It took a few weeks, three passes at it -- each more aggressive than the last, but they're finally a reasonable height. Come this next dormant season, and I'll be hacking away at them again...
The initial "before"
artistic "at work" shot taken by my son
After the initial round of cuts, where I focused mostly on removing dead branches and branches that were rubbing on each other:
And here is the pile of debris I began with...
Round 2, I spent a little more energy on branches crossing over into other "layers" if that makes sense. It did to me at the time.
and my growing pile of debris to be hauled off...
After a week or so, we made a trip to a nursery nearby to look for some new plants for the backyard. At that time, I took the opportunity to ask for a little pruning advice. Basically, she told me it would have been better had I started a little earlier, but she said to cut away, fertilize, and be prepared for the trees to look "a little funny" for a while. But she said to think of it this way -- there is an entire growing season for the trees to fill back in.
At this point, my husband may feel I became a little "overzealous." All the clippings in the next picture are only from the third round of pruning... and there probably would have been more had he not come home early.
and here is the final product of that day's work:
Pretty, right? But at least you can see the roof again...
Here it is now after a few weeks of new growth filling in:
and now a really dramatic before and after side by side:
So... the shaping still needs some work (like I said, I'm waiting for the next dormant season) and we need some fresh mulch, but I'm happy with it overall.
A good article I wish I would have read about pruning Japanese Maples A YEAR AGO: