How to Prune Domestic Grape Vines


Grapevines provide several benefits to a household landscape. Not only do they produce a delicious fruit harvest that can be turned into wine, jam or juice, but they also can be trellised domestically for their aesthetic value or to provide a privacy wall. To tailor grapevines to your landscaping needs, pruning is of the utmost importance. And pruning isn't only important for this--it is integral for proper fruit production and to encourage optimum growth and health. Allow the grapevine to flourish during the first year of growth to develop a strong root system and main trunk (or cane). Start pruning around the second year.

Step 1

Identify the thickest and strongest main cane during the mid to late winter season of the first year. Use the bypass pruners to cut back all the other stems close to the base of the grapevine.

Step 2

Insert the trellis if you have not already. Dig a hole about 1 foot deep next to the grapevine trunk (about 6 inches away), as thick as the diameter of the stake. Pound the stake into the hole with the hammer until it is sturdy and tight. Tie the main stem to the stake with the plant ties. Note: It is easier to have the stake already secured into the ground before planting, so you don't risk harm to the roots.

Step 3

Allow the stems and vines to grow outward from the main trunk until the second year's spring season. In mid-spring, identify the two strongest and thickest stems growing from the trunk, one on each side. These will be the basic framework for the domestic grapevine. Cut back all side shoots except for these.

Step 4

Cut back the top of the grapevine trunk once it reaches the height you desire during the summer of the second year. Continue to keep this cut back to the same height throughout its life to ensure proper side growth.

Step 5

Continue to cut back all side growth from the main trunk except for the main side branches during the second year's winter.

Step 6

Allow the grapevine to flourish during the third year's spring and summer, just pruning it to keep the basic framework.

Step 7

Prune the grapevine during the third winter to ensure maximum fruit production. Do this by cutting back the two main branches so there are only 12 renewal buds on each branch. It will appear stubby because each bud will have one to two leaf joints.

Step 8

Continue pruning this way for the remainder of the grapevine's life. The only difference is that you must allow one more bud to grow on the tip of each branch after the 12 renewal buds every pruning season. This way, the grapevine grows slightly longer and stronger every year.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Bypass pruners
  • Wooden stake, 5 feet tall, or other preferred trellis
  • Plant ties
  • Hammer


  • Ohio State University: Basic Principles of Pruning
  • Why Less is More
  • Oregon State University: Pruning Grapevines
Keywords: grapevine care, pruning grapes, pruning grapevines

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.