Trimming a citrus tree often produces the best fruit in many citrus varieties because it prevents clumping of branches and retards disease. Contrary to popular belief, citrus trees will grow fruit even in the most shaded areas of the tree, according to the Arizona Cooperative Extension, because thinning is not necessary to allow in more light. Minimal trimming is all you need to do to keep a citrus tree beautiful and producing the best fruit.
Remove any dead or damaged branches or ones that cross and rub against each other or damage fruit.
Remove small sprouts from the tree using your hands. They break off easily and will not damage the tree, says the Arizona Cooperative Extension. Keep the lower 10 to 12 inches of a full-grown tree free of sprouts.
Remove smaller branches using a hand pruning tool. If no growth is desired, make the cut flush with the collar, where the branch meets the trunk. If growth is desired, remove part of the branch, cutting 1/4 inch above any active buds.
Remove branches bigger than 1 1/2 inches in diameter using a three-part cut. Begin the first cut 6 to 12 inches from the trunk of the tree, on the bottom of the branch, cutting a third of the way through. Make the second cut on the top portion of the branch, about 3 inches further from the first cut, sawing all the way through. Cut the rest of the stub back to the collar of the tree. This prevents ripping the tree trunk, which causes disease.