Pruning the Apple Trees

Pruning the Apple Trees: How and Why?

To start pruning the apple trees in your garden or backyard, you need to understand the way this tree grows and produces apples. Getting a fair idea about it will help you understand the pruning process. Backyards are often meant to grow apple trees and other fruits. Afterall the space gives you access to delicious fruits.

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However, these delicious fruit-bearing trees need basic maintenance to gain good results and make them aesthetically pleasing. These include annual pruning exercises, essential tree maintenance and care aspects. 

You need to know that pruning apple trees is not a simple task; you need to understand some of the basics of this task, like how, why and when. This article discusses these questions; now, let us begin with how as under: 

How does the Apple tree grow and produce fruits?  


Before exploring our main topic, we must understand how an apple tree grows and produces its fruits. It will help in understanding the tree pruning process. The apple tree’s growth is visible significantly after every year. To find out where the new development has started, you need to look at the ring, a band of tissue that completely makes the shoot grow and develop. Even the existing branches will have their growth 

It is crucial to find the spot where you have the new growth in your tree, especially before you start to prune. Also, at the same time, you can find the tree with new growth. It also develops new flower buds found in the season before it blooms. It can create flower buds during the summers, which open up during the next spring. 

You will find these buds are only developed over the short shoots and over the spurs found in apple trees. Flower buds are swollen at the base and round in shape, further developing the leaves. However, all the buds that are formed over the length of the shoot are barely developed into flowers. These grow into spurs, which produce flower buds when they are not pruned correctly or triggered for developing new shoots. 

How to Prune an Apple Tree? 

Now, let us check the details about pruning an apple tree in your backyard. The topic covers the basic shapes that can help in pruning the tree and making the required cuts for this process. You have three different ways of shaping or pruning an apple tree, let us check  them all: 

1. Natural: It only means allowing them to grow naturally with a bit of pruning.This often means that a large tree is difficult to reach on the top with smaller apples. Some people may choose the aesthetically appealing. While some people prefer aesthetics, looking at their health is not their preference.

2. Cultivated into a specific shape: These are of two types, let us check them as under: 

  • Single leader tree: It comes with one trunk that dominates and grows in the upper direction. It has multiple limbs based horizontally off the main leader and many fruiting branches that come from scaffold branches. It is a good choice for naturally shorter trees.

  • Multiple leaders: In this tree, you can find two or more branches that dominate and grow at an angle or in the upward direction away from the main tree or its center. This pruning method also helps maintain a shorter tree that helps grow the complete-sized variety. 

3. Espaliered to fit a small space: When you find the tree are pruned in an espalier shape, these are shaped with the help of growing it over the trellis or wall. This style helps in creating a vine-like fiat tree. It helps in coming along with a natural growth pattern for the apple or other apple trees. However, this may prove effective for backyards with limited space. 

What are the Types of cuts required for Pruning? 

There are two basic types of cuts made for pruning the apple tree. These include thinning and heading cuts. The difference comes in the way you can shoot or the way the branch is removed, affecting the number of branches you find in the tree. Generally speaking, the former cut can help reduce the branches on the apple tree, while the latter encourages the growth of a new shoot. Now, let us check these two cuts in detail: 

Thinning: It deals with removing the complete branch over its base, where you find it joining the rest of the limb. The cut often has a minimal impact on the tree’s appearance. It also helps remove all the dead branches and even the trees that come with exceeding the number of trees. It is also used for removing dead branches and even the trees that come with multiple branches. This type of cut also helps in developing flower buds. 

Heading: This type of cut deals with removing a portion of the branch so that it can remain on your apple tree. You can find the heading cuts in the direction where the branches are growing and eventually changing the tree’s appearance. It also adds freshness and energy to the buds that remain closer to the cut. These cuts also remove the terminal bud at the end and shoot to result in many more shoots only for developing the cut and making it a denser canopy.

What are the steps of Apple Tree Pruning? 

Apple tree pruning

The apple tree pruning involves the following give steps, have a look: 

Let us confess that, in reality, pruning is a time-consuming task. It involves too much work per this task’s scope and the apple tree’s current state. However, the basic idea of pruning is simple: removing dead branches and even creating a good shape as per your wish. You have to make detailed cuts to open the interior canopy and finish the basic trim. 

  • Assess the tree: Inspect the shape and size of the tree and target the crowded spots, limbs and dead branches, which are longer or taller than you want. This will help you to decide the roadmap you follow to prune the trees and check the cuts required to be done.

  • Get rid of the damage or dead wood: You must clear all the damaged and diseased branches at once. At the same time, you need to remove the new growth found on the trunk base. All these suckers come from the rootstock rather than fruiting a wide range of things. These are grafted over the upper portion of the tree. You need to remove the same by thinning the cut if you find the complete branch as dead. If you find only the tip dead, remove only the dead portion using a heading cut over the side branch.

  • Fix the shape and size: Remove all the branches that are too long or tall using thinning cuts or shortening them using the heading cuts. It also means that the terminal branches are seen over the top of any tree and scaffolding the branches, which comes closer to the central leader. Now, open the canopy with the tree center. Also, the main branches require sufficient room over the lateral branches, access to the sunlight requirements to find the interior and even check the lower branches as seen on the tree. You have to get rid of the branches that are very close to the growing back of the tree’s center using a thinning cut. Also, get rid of the branches that are seen growing at the center of three with the help of thinning cut.
  • Get your tree a haircut: It is called heading back, which helps the branches grow thicker and shorter and targets the lower growth in the canopy. It also keeps the apple tree from growing upwards and onward. Also, you need to remove around 20 to 30 percent of the active growth as seen previous year with the help of thinning cuts. Hence, it is vital to find the spot where you get the new growth. You have to prune the branches around a one-quarter inch over the facing bud. It also prevents some new branches that keep on growing over the tree center. 

When should  you prune? 

The best time to prune your apple tree is during the later winter or early spring when you find the tree dormant and about to see growth for the coming season. Buds are simple to see and work, and you can easily cut wounds that have the option to dry and check the insects coming over the spring. You can even help add the effect during the winter hardiness and check the overall health. Also, pruning reduces the winter’s hardiness to some extent. 

You can easily find the buds where you can cut wounds and thus give them the chance to dry down before insects touch them in spring. Pruning has the least impact on the tree’s health during this time, and it even reduces the winter’s hardiness. Thus it makes the tree week. 

It is easy to check the buds and work with them. The wounds have a chance to dry up before insects come out in the spring. You will see less effect on winter hardiness and overall tree health. Pruning lessens winter hardiness to a small extent, making the tree easily available to any winter injury after planting. 

For the summer pruning, you can choose the month of July or August. However, you must be conscious enough while carrying out the pruning task. It is not a good idea to severely prune the tree as this is when the trees are weak. Doing it can only hamper the fruit-bearing capacity of the tree. It also hampers the fruit’s quality by producing small apples and gives the possibility of snapped branches. 

What are the pruning tools you need to prune your apple tools? 

You can find different size branches in any mature apple tree. Hence you need a diverse set of stools to accomplish this job with greater efficiency. The following are some of the tools you need: 

  • Pruners
  • Loppers
  • Saw

Once you use them, you should clean them and store them in the allocated space within your property. 

In conclusion, pruning an apple tree is a daunting task requiring meticulous planning, proper tools and expertise. Calling a professional pruning service provider is always a good idea. Approaching Eden can help you get quality work at an affordable cost. Contact Eden for more on pruning services for your apple trees. 

Enjoy a beautifully manicured lawn with our timely yard work services that care for your yard according to the season. Call us today!