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How to Trim an Apple Tree

Last Updated on June 10, 2020 by MakeThingsReal

Growing fruit trees at home can be absolutely rewarding, not only because of the fruits that you get to harvest each season, but also how these trees can add appeal and fresh air to your backyard or patio. One good example is the apple tree. Apple trees are very versatile and come in several sizes, shapes and varieties that you can actually enjoy having them in any garden situation. Having these trees would require pruning or trimming, so as to maintain its healthy state and away from diseases of aging. Learning how to trim trees is indeed a helpful knowledge especially if you do not plan on spending extra just to pay someone else to do it for you.

The Basics

One basic thing to remember is to first check or confirm whether the apple tree is still young or already mature. Young apple trees should be trimmed to support and maintain a solid and strong framework, while mature trees are trimmed to maintain their healthy shape and also to make sure that the fruit production is at its peak. It is also best to trim your apple tree during very early spring or late winter just before new growth begins. To give you a better insight of this task, here is a list what you should trim or take out:

* Suckers

* Broken branches or stubs

* Branches that are growing downwards

* Branches that are already criss-crossing or rubbing each other

* Interior branches that are growing upwards

* Narrow crotches

* Competing leaders

* Whorls

As much as possible, try not to trim or prune in the fall as it will only stimulate new growth that will eventually die because of the cold winter season. On deciding how much to trim, remember that it should have enough spacing between the branches for nice shading.

Getting the right tools

Having the right tools is essential to make sure that no damage will be done to the tree as you go about trimming it. Make sure that you use blades that are equally proportional to the size of the branches you are cutting. Hand pruners can be used for small limbs while wider branches will require bigger equipment such as a chainsaw. There are several chainsaws available in the market that you can always choose from and they come in a variety of sizes and purposes. For thick and high branches it is best to use a saw that can be mounted on a pole for your safety and convenience. Knowing how to pick the right tools will surely help a lot on how to trim an apple tree.

The Process

After you have prepared the tools that you will need, it is now time to start trimming your apple tree. Most gardeners find it easier to start working above when they are cutting, so you might as well consider preparing a ladder, too. It is important to get the right shape – the tree should be of cone-like shape, having more volume at the base or near the base than the upper portion. This shape greatly helps in allowing sunlight to reach most parts of the branches.

Be on the lookout for suckers or those unwanted shoots that are most likely to grow near the trunk’s base. Suckers can be removed even when fall is already beginning or when summer is just about to end. You also need to remove any diseased, damaged or dead wood that is already discolored or flaking. If there is no bud on the branch, you can remove all of it easily.

Key notes to remember

In case you have a neglected apple tree at home, you need to know that this will require corrective and extensive pruning than the others. Whether you have it neglected because of your busy work schedule or perhaps you just moved in to a new house with an old and neglected apple tree at the patio, you can always turn that tree into a beautiful and healthy one again if you want to. After you have done the necessary pruning for the tree, remember not to have it fertilized in the coming spring.

Knowing how to trim an apple tree is indeed an added knowledge that you can always be proud of. It is relatively fast and easy if you know the basics and of course, if you already have the essential tools that you will need. Soon enough, you will be rewarded with blossoming branches and sweet apple fruits in the fall. Picking apples might just turn to be one of your favorite hobbies or it could also be something that you and your family would enjoy doing very soon. Just remember to keep your trees healthy and strong so that you can benefit from it for a very long period of time. Lastly, try not to over-trim your apple tree especially when it is not really necessary.


If you need help with finding the best chainsaw for you, check out our review article for the best chainsaws of 2019!