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Apple tree pruning

This is my Apple tree. It’s been in for 5yrs and produces very small sparse fruit. I know I need to prune, but haven’t yet as I don’t have a clue how to prune it! All the advice I read say have a leading branch and prune from there. However, I have a perfect Y shaped tree so don’t know which should be the leading branch, and how much I should prune the leading branch by. It’s also quite lopsided and wonder if it’s ok to the severely stake it back into the upright position, with force!it into the upright position. Any advice is much appreciated


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,811
    They never grow in the same shape that pruning guides show, do they?

    I would suggest you wait till December before pruning. Cut back the two large branches by at least half to below any secondary branches. I would also remove the horizontal branch (which is on the right in photo 1, just above the tie). Aim to maintain an open goblet shape in future years.

    I would also remove the grass around the base of the tree to a radius of at least 50cm and mulch it instead. If you are going to re-stake it to try to straighten it you will need a much stronger stake, probably two, one each side with a strong tie in between. You might get away with a big stake at 45 degrees driven in on the side it is leaning toward.
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,709
    If you really, really want to find out about the whys and wherefores of apple pruning, take a look at this

    It’s very long and detailed but it explains clearly what to do to obtain the best shape from any given tree.

    Bear in mind that, like people, apple varieties come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Bramleys are great, galumphing, spreading, leggy things. By contrast, Gala is a neat, compact, tidy tree. No amount of pruning is going to change the basic instinct of the tree to assume the shape that its parentage intended for it.

    Good luck. Enjoy.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Thank you so much. I will aim to read it all!
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,709
    edited August 2019

    I agree with Steephill - the one thing that you could do right away, which takes no mental effort but a fair bit of physical effort, is to cut a clear metre wide circle out of the grass, leaving bare earth around the tree’s trunk.

    Not only will this remove plants that compete for food and water with the tree but will also reduce the risk of the trunk getting slashed and bashed during grass cutting time.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
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