5 Things You Need To Know About Pruning Fruit Trees

Posted on: 9 January 2017

If you're like many modern homeowners, you're interested in growing some of your own fruits and vegetables in your outdoor living space rather than having a purely ornamental lawn and garden area. Fruit trees used to be a common sight in city, suburban, and rural backyards, and although they disappeared from view for several decades, they've regained popularity in all parts of the country. However, backyard fruit tree care isn't the kind of common knowledge it was back in the day when they were in almost every yard, and today's homeowners sometimes struggle with keeping fruit trees healthy and sound. Following are five basics that you need to know about pruning fruit trees.   

Prune Fruit Trees During Dormancy  Always prune your fruit trees during the dormant season — after their leaves have fallen off in autumn and before they bud in spring. Many people prune in late winter, but be careful not to wait too long — you risk damaging new growth if you prune after trees break dormancy, so check them closely for tiny green buds before beginning. 

Always Use Sharp, Clean Instruments  Dull blades or dirt on pruning sheers may result in fungal pathogens being passed on to your fruit trees during the process of pruning. Always sharpen your blades before proceeding with a pruning job, and ensure that they're free of fungal spores and other organisms capable of passing on disease, dip them in a solution on one part lukewarm water to nine parts bleach or rub them liberally with a clean cotton cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. 

Begin By Lightly Thinning Branches  The first step in pruning a fruit tree is to lightly thin the branches in order to promote good air circulation once the tree has leafed out and has begun producing fruit. Cut off branches that grow downward, toward the tree's center or cross other branches. 

Prune Back the Outmost Growth  The next step is to head back the growth on the tree's outermost branches with the aim being to produce lateral growth that result in shorter, thicker branches rather than long, gangly ones. Use a light touch, and remove no more than 30 percent of the previous year's growth. 

Keep It Clean  Never fail to clean up every last twig after you are finished with your pruning project. Leaving vegetative material on the ground may facilitate the spread of disease. Please don't hesitate to professionals at your convenience if you've got questions on how to properly maintain your backyard fruit trees.  


Keeping Your Trees Healthy

About a year ago, I realized that our front trees were starting to look a little funny. Some of the leaves were wilted, but we weren't anywhere near autumn. The bark on the trunk also seemed to be rotting away, which was frustrating and disappointing. Fortunately, a friend of mine told me to call a professional arborist for help. He came out, inspected the trees, and injected some special pesticides into the trunk. Within a few months, they started to look a lot better. Our arborist also trimmed our trees to reduce the weight load on the branches and to improve their shape. Check out this blog for information about tree trimming.