Miss Landscape

Fruit tree pruning

Most fruit tree pruning takes place in winter when the tree is dormant and the sap is low, however some fruit types differ from others and require certain types of pruning at different times of year. Below is a descriptive guide to the pruning requirements of a variety of fruit trees.

Top Pruning Tip
  • Always use clean sharp tools
  • Always cut to an outer facing bud on a downward angle away from bud
  • Never prune in very wet or very hot weather as this can increase the risk of fungal and bacterial problems later on 

Seed fruits

(apples, pears, figs)


Apples & Pears

The purpose of pruning during the first 4 years of the trees life is training - the creation of the basic framework which will encourage efficient cropping in later years. With bushes and standards, this calls for fairly severe cutting back of the branches in order to produce an open-centered and freely-branched tree. In addition to training a good shape, dead, dying, diseased and crossing stems must be removed.


After 4 years the purpose of cutting out wood is maintenance pruning- the creation of a regular supply of new fruiting wood, balanced with the need to retain as much existing fruiting wood as possible. The pruning is generally buch less severe than training, but you must continue to remove dead, dying, diseased and crossing stems (DDDC). 


All this is winter pruning, winter pruning will encourage new growth, whereas the role of pruning espaliers, fans, cordons, fans and dwarfs in summer is to inhibit shoot growth


All pruning cuts must be clean - pare off any ragged parts. Sharp secateurs are essential - press downwards, don't just squeeze.

The removal of large branches or very high branches, call in a qualified professional if the job is beyond your capabilities. 


Bushes and standards

Training (winter)

  • Cut back strong branches to half their length and weak ones to a third. 
  • Remove all DDDC. 
  • Cut out new stems that are growing towards the heart of the tree. 

Pruning an established tree (winter)

  • Remove the DDDC wood
  • Cut back stems to a fruiting spur
  • Continue to keep the crown open by removing all inward growing stems

Cordons, dwarf pyramids, espaliers

Training (late spring)

  • Tie in the main stem as it grows
  • When it reaches the top, cut the tip off the main stem. Do this every year leaving 1/2 inch 

Established cordons (Jul-Aug)

  • Prune side shoots when they reach atleast 9" long, to 3 leaf buds