I would wire tourniquet one of them and ring bark the other to see what works better and i'd do it in spring. Re do the nebari. I used the wire tech on a regular Japanese maple and got good results-completely radial roots. Then I'd plant in a training pot for two years before repotting. in the second year i'd thread graft a few branches. Second year I would repot again adjust the nebari.
To me, improving the nebari would be the number one goal, for both trees. Right now, the nice, spreading nebari that is characteristic of tridents, is missing on both trees. So, after the end of January, I would completely remove all the soil, do a thorough analysis of the root base, and create a plan to drastically improve it. The plan may include root pruning, carving, root grafting (using young trident seedlings), layering, planting in a wide and shallow pot, or planting in the ground - depending on the state of the roots.
Which should be done first, fix the base or chop the top?
Good calls, I agree on the roots. I think the bases are good they just need improving.
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