There are several reasons to prune well. The most obvious one is to keep your tree looking healthy and to let in the light. But don’t take my word for it. Head over to a YouTube recording from the RHS, for example, and you’ll see that timely pruning can save a tree from infection, disease, and pest invasion. Another good reason to prune is to keep the tree manageable, then you won’t need an aborist. I’ve put the basics down on this page for you.
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If you are pruning yourself, you’ll need a pruning saw and a sturdy bin. Expect to fill it at least once.
I use the three cut method, which facilitates a clean break. Unsightly tears in branches are also opportunities for disease to get into the tree.
Take about 12 inches off each branch and leave as many lateral branches as you can.
Pruning at the right time of year needs research. I can do that for you; take a look at this page I have researched from the charity RHS:
Unless dealing with young trees, saplings, or trees that have been pruned regularly, it is best to consult a tree surgeon or arborist. Fruit trees are best trimmed at different times of the year. A young pear can benefit from a pruning in July, whereas apple may be best pruned in March. Do your research, and workout why you are pruning. Some pruning will encourage new growth. For example, if you take out lead branches you will end up with more lateral growth. Often trees benefit from a prune when dormant. Consider wildlife. Our birch is best pruned in summer, but in August some wood pigeons were nesting on one of the branches. We managed to prune the nearby branch without casualties.
Thinning is perfect for mature trees; taking out several branches and opening the tree up into the shape of a vase. Rember that thinning will produce new growth.
Mature fruit trees can be pruned in winter; February and March are good months to thin out to encourage new growth:
Of course, how you prune can depend very much on the current shape of your tree once established. Remember some trees are weeping and you want to keep them this way, so don’t prune them back too heavily.
With a grafted cherry tree you can prune this back. Usually around 12 inches per branch is enough, every two years, once established.
If the tree is a naturally weeping cherry do not prune back the branches which are growing straight up as they will grow down eventually.