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Dreams of beautiful apple tree versus depressing reality

Years back I planted a Katy apple tree along the rear of my small garden. It has provided lots of delicious red apples each August, but it keeps growing higher and is very spindly. In an attempt to stop the apples from breaking the thinner branches I tied several branches into a group. Unfortunately, due to my unwise choices and inexperience, my tree has now several long thin branches all growing into an adjacent lilac. A rambling rose has grown up but has nothing to hold on to and is just hanging there in mid air, in the centre and left hand side of the tree. It really looks miserable, and every day I stare at it I think I'm just a terrible gardener. 

Should I cut it all back in autumn and let it regrow? Alternatively, I could cut it back, dig it out and replant a new tree. My friend suggested propping it with some poles to alter direction the branches are going. I liked the idea that the branches and leaves would provide a little privacy from neighbours behind, but the tree is growing into the lilac, and not providing any shelter as I hoped. I was hoping somebody that is wiser and more experienced might offer some advice please? It is really not as I hoped. 


  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,286
    Have you ever pruned the tree?
  • Jesse2501Jesse2501 Posts: 152
    Yes, I cut it back a few times, usually after December each year. But it just bounces back and keeps leggy. 
  • You might want to consider summer pruning...
  • Joyce GoldenlilyJoyce Goldenlily Posts: 2,319
    Summer pruning controls height and width growth which your tree looks as if it could do with. 
    Winter pruning controls fruit production. 
    I have 2 dwarf apple trees and only prune in August which keeps the height of the heads of the trees down where I want them. I usually check them in Jan. and may do a light thinning of congested branches.
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,908
    edited 26 May
    I would venture to suggest that it is struggling to escape the overbearing presence of the lilac tree and looking for light, hence the long, thin, upward facing branches.

    Do you know which rootstock (and therefore which growth habit) it has?  Maybe just let it grow until it finds the light and then see how it looks.

    We all want our children to grow up to look like Paul Newman or Elizabeth Taylor but sometimes circumstances don’t allow it. 😕

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
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