- The best time to prune apple trees (and other fruit trees like pears for that matter) is in the winter when there are no leaves to obscure your view or your work and you can see the shape properly, enabling you to make the right pruning decision.
- Remember, the reason you are pruning. With a fruit tree this is usually to keep it productive and bearing fruit. Subsequently you are trying to let light and air into the heart of the branch network, reducing mildew and assisting the ripening process.
- Use the right tools. You will need an efficient, sharp and decent quality pair of pruners or secateurs. These come in bypass style (where the blades pass each other for a neat cut) or anvil style (where the top blade presses down on the lower blade). For slightly thicker twigs, you may wish to purchase a pair of loppers or an electric or petrol pole saw, and for thick branches, if they need cutting back, you will probably need a manual pruning saw or powered pole pruners.
- What to prune. Thin out the branches in the middle of the tree network to open it up and remove any dead wood to avoid disease getting into the tree. Also remove damaged branches as these can be a breeding ground for pests
- Don't over prune. This is very important. If you over prune the leaves and branches may thrive but you will not improve your fruit harvest.
- How to cut. The actual cuts should be near the join of the branch to the trunk or the twig to the branch. This is where growth is concentrated so is the best way to cut back your tree.
MD TIP: Get rid of any dead, rotten or dried fruit while you are up there to prevent disease.