Amanda’s tips for apple tree pruning

27 Nov
Getting set: Garden volunteers Hilary (left) and Jean

Getting set: Garden volunteers Hilary (left) and Jean

While everyone else at Wordsworth House may be staying indoors, snug and warm, getting down to their winter work, it’s business as usual outdoors for Amanda and her garden volunteers, as they undertake the mammoth task of pruning our 16 heritage apple trees.

Step one is to cut back any dead or diseased growth to a healthy point. Because we’re open to the public for most of the year, they also have to make sure no branches are sticking out over or obstructing paths between the trees – something that isn’t a problem in most domestic gardens.

The next step is to remove any crossing growth – where the branches are rubbing on one another – or any very low ones that are pointing down into the soil.

Over the years, because the growth was congested when Amanda started working here, she’s gradually removed central branches to give the trees an open goblet shape – it makes them healthier and it looks attractive.

Once all that’s done, it’s time to tackle the main pruning. You start on the branch leaders (the main growth coming off the big branches), shortening them by a quarter, if they have strong growth, and a half if the growth is weak.

Then you move onto pruning new side shoots to between four buds (on weak growth) and six buds (for stronger growth).

Each tree takes several hours and by the time a session is finished, the team are very grateful to get inside for a hot cuppa!

Hard to work: Jean and Hilary get down to business

Hard to work: Jean and Hilary get down to business


5 Responses to “Amanda’s tips for apple tree pruning”

  1. Trevor November 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Thank you Fletch. I have some trees on our allotment that could all do with some cutting back and I never really knew what to do. That Amanda is a bit clever.

    • Fletch the perchcrow November 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      Hi Trevor! Yes, Amanda is a very clever girl, but I don’t tell her that too often in case it goes to her head. Good luck with your trees. x PS Amanda sends a hug!

  2. M. D. Vaden portland landscaping and tree December 21, 2012 at 5:23 am #

    The several hours you mentioned for each tree, is why I’ve often considered fruit trees to be more demanding and difficult to prune than Japanese maples. A lot of folks think it’s the reverse, where Acer palmatum would be the challenge. But if fruit trees are done properly with thought, it’s a real piece of artwork and craftsmanship.


    • Fletch the perchcrow December 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Hello there! Thanks for your message. Pruning well is hard work, but there’s great satisfaction in a job well done, isn’t there.

  3. Tree Pruning Brooklyn December 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Always prune from bottom to top!

    -Samudaworth Tree Service

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