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Pruning Trees
Limbing Up a Tree

Cut off all branches using hand pruners, lopping pruners, or a saw at 7 to 8 feet above the ground when the tree is tall enough to retain 3 to 4 main branches as shown in the diagram to the left. Branches that angle up may be left above 5-6 feet. Make sure to cut branches off as close to the trunk as possible. Seal with Pruner Sealer.

Thinning a Shade Tree
Pruning a tree by thinning branches and leaving no stubs produces a more open and stronger branching pattern. Thinning helps to control size and rejuvinates the tree, making it more vigorous, healthier, and stronger.The thinning of a tree involves cutting a tree branch off at its point of origin on the parent branch. Seal cuts with Pruning Sealer. If you lack confidence in thinning a tree it is highly recommended that you hire a professional tree service, or surgeon, to perform the task.
Pruning a Japanese Maple - We recommend only light, selective hand pruning for both the low growing laceleaf or upright palmate leaf Japanese Maples. Any pruning should be performed while the tree is in winter dormancy. You may cut back a branch that has outgrown the rest and or is spoiling the shape of the tree. On the lower growing laceleaf's you may cut away lower branches that are hanging to the ground if a tree form is desired.

Pruning Fruit Trees - You'll want to know how to prune fruit trees so they will grow to produce good quality fruit, not just quantity. A good fruit-producing tree should be low enough so that you can reach the fruit easily, strong enough to support itself, and open enough for sun and air to penetrate.The branches should radiate around the trunk almost equally apart and emerge from the trunk at as close to a right angle as possible. If you want a productive fruit tree it's necessary to to establish a definite method of pruning from the time the tree is planted. Pruning should always be done in the late dormant season prior to blooming or foliage emerging. Pruning fruit trees within one week of blooming usually does no harm.We will address the Vase Training Method for peach and plum trees and the Central Leader Training Method for apples and pears.

PEACH TREES - The Vase Training Method method produces a vase-shaped tree consisting of three or four scaffolds of equal lengths and no central leader. Wait to prune peach trees until late winter when it is easiest to detect branches and buds that have been damaged due to cold weather. If a flower bud looks as though it has been winter-killed cut it off. Cut off winter-killed limbs that look wrinkled. Most of the peach trees that we sell at the nursery have been container grown and thus are at the second dormant season stage as pictured above. When your new fruit tree goes dormant refer to the diagram above to see what stage the tree is in. The branches indicated by shadows represent existing branches that you should remove.

Second Dormant Season - In the second dormant season cut back upward-growing branches near the center of the peach tree to short stubs. The small clusters of growth that develop from these stubs help to keep the center open for the next few months. If the 3 or 4 primary scaffolds (main branches) have not yet been selected, make this selection now. Remove any growth that has developed below the primary scaffolds and any shoots that arise from the scaffolds within 6 inches of the trunk. In mid-spring cut back the clusters of growth that emerged from the stubs and remove any shoots growing on the trunk below the scaffold.

Third Dormant Season - By this time the 3 or 4 primary scaffolds will have been chosen and all of the competing branches removed as shown in the diagram above. During dormancy eliminate branches with narrow-angled crotches or limbs. Remove any stubby center shoots. At the end of this season the form of the tree should be clearly recognizable. Peach trees bear fruit on one year old wood and require heavy pruning to stimulate new growth. For heading cuts (cuts to tips of branches) diagram scroll below.


PLUM TREES - Plum trees form naturally spreading branches that respond well to the Vase Shape Method described above for peach trees. Not as many heading cuts are required and instead concentrate on thinning small twigs and branches to increase fruit size on young trees.


APPLE & PEAR TREES - The Central Leader Training Method is recommended for apple and pear trees. This system trains the trees into a pyramidal shape to maximize vital sunlight exposure. Most of the apple and pear trees that we sell at the nursery are 2 years old and have been pruned with a central leader established and several scaffold branches (main branches).

Every Dormant Season - Cut the central leader to a 24 inches above the the tier just below it (the second tier). Maintain a pyramidal shape by leaving the lower scaffolds longer. Continue to remove shoots that come out from the trunk below the lowest scaffolds as well as any shoots that develop higher on the trunk. Cut any upward-growing branches growing from the scaffolds (main branches).

Later Years - To maintain a desired height and spread it will be necessary to prune every dormant season to restrict top growth. To do so prune all of the lateral growing branches off of the central leader. Then head the central leader by one half of the previous years growth. As the tree grows it will be necessary to thin limbs to allow sunlight to penetrate throughout the tree. If the top tiers become overgrown with large branches remove them rather than prune large numbers of smaller branches below.

Rejuvinating a Neglected Apple Tree - First thin undesirable interior branches that are diseased, broken, growing upward or downward from the scaffolds (main branches), or branches that cross or crowd other branches. To reduce tree height cut upward growing branches off at an outward growing branch that ios nearly the same diameter and about the height that is desired for the tree. On severley overgrown trees that are much taller than desired, make no more than 3 or 4 of these cuts each year until the height is sufficiently reduced. Continue to thin remaining branches throughout the tree targeting weak growth and underhanging branches. Begin thinning by working from the periphery of the tree towards the trunk leaving some fruit bearing wood in the interior.

Before Pruning
After Pruning



Thinning Cuts remove selected branches without disrupting the existing growth pattern. Every thinning cut increases sunlight penetration to the trees interior and promotes greater flowering and fruit production. Cut a branch back to the parent stem without leaving a stub. Heading Cuts encourage new growth directly behind the pruning cut. Heading cuts can be used to stiffen scaffold branches by directing energy to them. A branch can be headed to shorten it and keep it in balance with the other scaffolds.
When branches are spread to a desirable angle, tip growth slows and flower buds form and produce plenty of fruit.
  Use a piece of wood to brace young scaffold branches (main branches) at an angle as pictured above. Leave wood brace in for 6 months or so.


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