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We have a 3 year old maple tree that seemed to be doing great, but never lost it's leaves last fall. It showed no sign of life this spring and we were ready to replace it. A week or so ago it started sending out leaves at it's crotch. I'm pretty sure the top of the tree is dead. Do we cut it down to it's crotch (losing at least 8 feet of branches)? Will it regain a shape and will it be strong enough to survive the wind? What should we do with this tree?!
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The top of your tree seems to have died for some reason. Cutting it back to just beyond the live shoots is appropriate (make the cut in dead wood rahter than live). Eventually you can prune it to a single trunk, but wait a few years. There's a chance that the tree is grafted and is growing back from below the graft. If so, it will be a maple, but could look quite a bit different from the original, and could even be a different species.
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