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Apple Tree Pruning Help!!


I have recently moved into a house which has 3 mature apple trees in the garden. It looks like they have been "topped" a few years ago which has led to some extreme vertical growth. The yield hasn't been the best this year considering the size of the trees so i want to prune them properly. My aim is to reduce the overall size and height of the trees as well as improve the yield.

The steps i am planning on doing are:

1. Remove any dead / diseased wood
2. Remove any water sprouts in the centre of the tree

After this point i am struggling with knowing what (and how much) to prune and when the best time of year is to do this. I have read on another forum than summer pruning is best for controlling growth so i was thinking of focussing on the two steps above over winter then prune the rest in summer next year?

If someone could point me in the right direction it would be much appreciated!


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,544
    By all means remove as much dead wood as you like. No chance of that regrowing and adding to the problem. 

    So far as the water shoots go, be very very sparing in how many you remove. A 10% loss each winter and summer is about as much as you will manage without a repeat performance of the previous owner’s efforts.

    Height and spread are largely beyond your control, I’m afraid. The trees are grafted onto a rootstock and different rootstocks produce trees of different heights and growth patterns. You have become the proud owner of trees on rootstock in the category known as BIG. No matter how much you trim them they will always yearn to be that size.  It’s a bit like cutting down a clematis and hoping that it will stay there. 🙂
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Thanks for the response.

    What about the rest of the growth? how would i go about pruning this properly? it seems far to over crowded at the moment and i'd quite like to improve the shape / overall look of the trees.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,544
    There is so much to say about pruning that you could wrote a book about it. In fact, lots of people have. 🙂 One book that I would recommend you try to buy is Growing Fruit by Harry Baker. Out of print, sadly, but still findable online.

    Here is a sample page from it.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
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