Hawthorn Tree - Pruning Advice

philipsmith2philipsmith2 Posts: 8
edited May 2018 in Problem solving
Hi there

I have a young hawthorn tree planted in our garden this year and was wondering if anyone had advice on whether we should prune it.

I'd like it to grow as tall and bushy as possible, making sure the branches don't grow out to block people on a path about 4 feet away. Right now the lowest branch is about 5 feet up the trunk.

At the top, it's a bit straggly - quite a few branches with very few leaves and some wispy bits caused, I assume, from wind and snow damage (see photos).

Any advice greatly appreciated!



  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 2,485
    I recommend you leave the pruning till the winter time. By doing that, you will not disrupt the flowering and fruits. The shape looks good so far, and just needs a bit of shortening near the top.
  • philipsmith2philipsmith2 Posts: 8
    Thanks, Borderline.

    Would you only cut damaged top branches to the nearest bud, or eliminate completely some of the crossing/rubbing branches? 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 15,162
    I would cut back dead wood now, to just above a healthy bud of leaf and yes, I would also cut out crossing and rubbing branches so it grows with an open canopy.  It will fill in the gaps with new stems and plenty of foliage but be a healthier tree.   In later years you can remove lower branches to just above head height for passers by.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • GWRSGWRS Posts: 6,108
    I have a Hawthorn tree in garden and Hawthorn hedges , I agree with Oberlix 
    However , they are tuff trees and you would be ok to trim at any time 
    Next week I will be trimming my hedges 
  • philipsmith2philipsmith2 Posts: 8
    Obelixx and GWRS - thank you so much.

    So dead wood can be cut at any time of year without sap bleed? And given that it's a fairly young tree, how many, roughly, of the crossing branches would you cut?
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 15,162
    When you cut dead wood you need to go back to live wood or you risk leaving infected or damaged cells that cause die-back to continue down the stems.   Best done in autumn after leaf fall when you can see the shape of the tree more easily or in late spring/early summer when sap flow has slowed.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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