How to Prune a Fruit Tree: Our Edinburgh Tree Surgeon Explains

Many homes in Edinburgh and the surrounding regions like Livingston and Broxburn have amazing fruit trees of all varieties in their gardens. Growing your own food is linked to all sorts of health benefits, of course, and a fruit tree is one of the easiest ways to get fresh produce on your table with the minimum of effort.

Not only that, fruit trees attract all sorts of wildlife and are important for the environment. Our tree surgeons are often called to properties across the city to carry out work on a wide variety of different trees.

As with most trees, a good pruning regime is essential in maintaining health and promoting a strong harvest. It’s something that many owners, however, get wrong, either because of lack of time or poor knowledge about what is needed.

When to Prune Your Trees

This depends largely on the variety and it’s a good idea to do some research online before you begin so that you get it right.

In general terms, apple, pear and quince trees are best pruned during the winter before any regrowth starts. This encourages more shoots and flowers that hopefully should grow into fruits during the summer. Winter is also a good time to see the overall shape of your tree which makes it easier to pick the right branches to cut.

For other varieties such as plums and stone fruits in general, spring and summer pruning is more important. The key is to avoid cutting branches that are likely to have fruit on them. Spring and summer pruning is useful if you also have a tree that’s getting out of control and you don’t want to encourage any more vigorous growth.

During autumn, you should avoid pruning altogether. Your tree is preparing to go dormant and cutting can encourage new growth that you don’t want, especially if the winter is mild.

How to Prune Your Trees

The tools you need depend on the size of the tree. You may be able to get away with a sharp pair of secateurs and a ladder but you might also need a telescopic tree pruner to reach those higher up places. A mix of the two is usually the best way to go.

The first step in pruning is to cut away any dead, damaged or diseased branches. You might also have some new branches called ‘suckers’ coming out from the base of your trunk and these should be removed. Generally, cut back to the larger limb these branches are attached to.

The next step is to thin out where you can. This allows air and light to get into the tree canopy and can help promote fruit growth and reduce pests over the summer. Look for any branches that are growing downwards or areas where branches are clustered together and competing with each other. Again, these cuts should be flush with the main branch they are attached to.

The final step is to prune back the outermost growth both to the sides and above the canopy, basically giving your tree a haircut. These cuts are made about halfway down the branch, rather than the base, and are designed to encourage shorter and thicker growth rather than the branches being long and gangly which may break once they start growing fruit. The cut should also be about a quarter inch from a bud facing the way that you want the tree to grow next.

Why Hire a Tree Surgeon in Edinburgh?

Fruit tree maintenance can be a lot more difficult than many homeowners realise and it’s often done haphazardly. While most years you may be happy to prune your trees, if you want to maintain a good crop and keep your plants healthy, inviting your local friendly tree surgeon to have a look and get their expert opinion is a good idea.

Our experienced team not only the best time to prune for all varieties of fruit trees, but we’ll also ensure future healthy growth.

Want to find out more? Contact our team today to see how we can help.