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Paul Anderson


I need to prune an apple and a pear tree. They have never been pruned before and are quite old. I have been told by a friend that he went on a fruit tree pruning course and pruned his back hard in winter with a chain saw and they all came back but I have read on the RHS advise that only a quarter should be taken back every year and to do it over a gradual basis....any help or advise would be most appreciated


I'd do it gradually - pruning back hard will produce lots of lush water shoots which will then need thinning etc a bit like what happens when pollarding.

 Reducing the canopy by less than 1/3 should not stimulate a lot of new growth. 

Paul Anderson

Yes I read about lots of lush water shoots appearing if pruned too hard, ok thanks very much for replying, I shall reduce the canopy by 1/3 and see how it goes. 


Yep, sound advice from Dove - do a 1/3rd this year and same for the next 2 winters.  Some watershoots are bound to appear so remove those growing where you don't want them and cut the ones back you do want to keep to about 4 inches (those will turn into fruiting spurs.)  The RHS advice for renovative pruning is very good:



Orchid Lady
Hi Paul, there is a thread from Holyrood gardener somewhere saying welcome and I asked him about my apple tree, his reply to my query is on there.

I too have an old apple tree, we have lived here over 4 years and I've never pruned it but it's looking a bit straggly now but still produces loads of fruit. Truth is, I'm scared to prune it in case I kill it!!


Paul Anderson

thats great thanks a lot bob I always try and get as many opinions as possible to minimise any mistakes. Thanks tracey, I felt the same way.

Paul Anderson

Hi bob,

Just one question, when the watershoots appear, at what time of the year or when do I cut them back to 4 inches??


Many thanks


Summer prune new growth in late August. That way it will make fruiting spurs.

I have hardly ever pruned my worcester tree, and it is laden every year.

I see wild seedling apples at the side of the road that are laden every year and they never get pruned. Maybe we try too hard with pruning, and certainly worry about it too much.

otnorot but just call me Bill

Paul pruning should be done in the fall. Look at your trees,see all those branches on top sticking strait up,that's what you cut off every fall.


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