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Pruning newly established trees

Pruning can sometimebe a daunting task, but if you get the shape right in the first few years you'll find it a fairly easy process. Fruit trees such as apples, pears, plums and peaches can be pruned both in summer and winter. Pruning in summer can make it easier to keep a tree small, but if you're planting a new tree in winter it's worth pruning into shape on the first dry, sunny day.


What you'll need:



Pruning Saw

Pruning Paste/Paint

Note: All these tools should be sharp to ensure that your cuts are nice and neat. If they aren't and you need help sharpening you can drop your tools in to your nearest Kings Plant Barn and make use of our sharpening service.


Tips for getting started

  • Prune on a dry day - if the trees are wet this increases your chance of spreading disease.
  • Know what shape you are aiming for when pruning. Generally speaking, prune and train plum and peach trees into an open-vase shape, and apples and pears into a central leader. Though there are a few other options, including modified central leaders, espaliers, and cordons that are better in some situations..
  • Get the shape right early. If you get the shape right early you'll make it much easier for your future self.
  • With the possible exception of the first year, where pruning hard can help establish a good shape, it's generally best to avoid pruning back by more than a 1/3.


The basics

Cuts should be made at a 45° angle sloped away from the bud. The lower end of your cut should end opposite the bud.



  • Start by cutting off dead, diseased and damaged wood.
  • Cut back to a healthy looking bud facing in the direction you want the branch to grow.
  • Cover larger cuts with a pruning paste, such as Bacseal Pruning Sealant or Organic Prune 'n' Paste.
  • And remember, take your time. You can always cut more away but you can't stick branches back on.


Pruning shapes


Central Leader


Best shape for apples and pears.

Pruning and training

  • Cut out dead, damaged and diseased wood.
  • Cut out branches to form layers around the tree. Each layer needs around 50cm spacing, so prune out any branches that are too close together. If need be train theses so that they come out almost horizontally from the tree.






  • Best shape for peaches, plums and nectarines.
  • Due to its open center, this shape allows lots of air and sunlight into the tree, which helps reduce the chance of getting any fungal problems, and makes it easier to harvest the fruit.

Pruning and training

  • Cut out dead, damaged and diseased wood.
  • Select 3 branches that are evenly spaced around the tree's to start forming your vase. If you can, select branches from low down the trunk, to make subsequent pruning and harvesting easier (just make sure that if you mow around your tree that you'll able to get your mower in).
  • Cut out the trunk back to your uppermost branch of your vase, and prune out any other branches


Want to avoid pruning?

Our dwarf peach, nectarine and Kiwiapple fruit trees rarely require pruning, only grow 1.5-2m tall and can be grown in pots.

Click here to see our range of dwarf trees


Any questions?

Still not sure? Come in-store and ask an expert or email