If you enjoy eating fresh apples from the grocery store, consider growing your own apple trees in your landscape. These fruit trees thrive in many areas of the country with average climates and growing conditions. Whether you are maintaining a whole orchard or a single apple tree, this venture requires periodic cutting and pruning to keep the trees healthy and encourage the formation of new limbs and abundant fruit.
Check your apple tree periodically for signs of diseased limbs or broken limbs caused by wind damage, animals or people. Cut off broken branches and twigs as soon as you notice them on your apple trees. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears for small limbs and twigs and a branch saw for larger limbs and branches. Remove the damaged growth by making a cut a few inches above the injury, at a 45-degree angle from the directional growth of the limb. Avoid transferring diseases by dipping your pruning shears or limb saw in a diluted solution of bleach water. Mix 1 part bleach with 9 parts water to disinfect your pruning implements.
Thin and train the branches on your young apple trees before they begin forming fruit to encourage strong, well-developed branches and to remove crowded sections that may limit airflow. Begin training your young trees by removing all but one, main leader. Leaders are main branches that grow in a vertical direction from the base of the tree. In trees with numerous leaders, cut back the outer leaders, leaving only the central leader. Cut these leaders off where they attach to the lower trunk. Remove crowded side branches by cutting branches that appear directly opposite another branch, leaving side branches evenly staggered along the length of the main leader. Cut off any side branches that attach lower than 24 inches above the soil.
Cut the old growth from your mature trees after they begin producing apples. Help your trees produce quality fruit by removing excessive amounts of forming apples. When the apples reach about ½ inch in size, cut out enough apples on your branches to allow at least 4 inches of space between each of the remaining apples. Leave only one apple per cluster to reduce diseases and encourage the growth of healthy produce.