Apple Tree Pruning
February 02, 2021

Apple and Pear Tree Pruning

Arrabawn Tips on Gardening

Apple tree and Pear tree pruning techniques.


All tools used should be sharpened and clean. This is important because a sharp tool cuts cleanly and without damaging the wood by tearing which in turn prevents disease from entering the wound. All tools should be regularly disinfected and do keep on sterilising as you work through the tree. After you have prepared your tools which should be secateurs, pruning saw, sturdy safe ladder and loppers, maybe bow saw.


Select your tree and take a slow walk around the tree. Pay attention to crossing, rubbing branches and any that are growing inwards to the center of the tree plus any obviously diseased stems or branches. In a way get to know your tree because you will be pruning every year and you will remember in time which branches you have selected to remove. Never hard prune an apple or pear tree only prune one third of the tree and try to keep it open if it is a bush shaped tree or if it is a central leader bush tree keep the main center growing plus side branches growing out from the main stem.
With young trees you are trying to create branches that will hold fruit in later years so you will need to prune the primary branches by a half or weak branches by two thirds. A primary branch is the one growing outwards from the center. On slightly older trees around three years old you must cut the side growths off from the primary branches by a half and on weaker branches two thirds. With all laterals growing from the primary branches cut these to four buds. Year four and five pruning is the same because now your tree will be producing fruiting spurs on all laterals that have been pruned to four buds in previous years. Any laterals in the center of the tree can be pruned to four buds, leave outside laterals alone.
Remove any rubbing, crossing branches or severely diseased stems/branches whilst you work. Create an open shaped tree by removing stems growing inwards and prune these to four buds, they will become fruiting spurs in the coming year. Prune to an outward facing bud and if you can a downward facing bud. Where you prune will dictate where the new growth will continue on. So, if your bud is facing inwards the new stem will grow inwards so do try to concentrate where the bud is on the stem. Apple trees are suspectable to disease and this is often caused by over crowding of branches which prevent good air circulation in the summer months. Disease can enter if a branch is broken or a wound has happened because of a continuous rubbing branch over time. This is why you should always remove these problems when you see them once a year in winter months and prune correctly and with sterilised tools.
After you have completed your pruning, clear away all branches all stems and if badly diseased burn them, do not place in the compost bin otherwise you will spread the disease around the garden when spreading out your compost later. Weed around the tree and fertilise with a slow-release fertiliser and mulch with compost, leaf mould, or well-rotted manure. Then stand back and know you have done a good job!
Happy gardening everyone





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