How to Trim Walnut Trees


The black walnut (juglan nigra) is a deciduous perennial that is highly valued because of the quality of its wood. The tree can grow up to 120 feet tall and has dark brown, ridged bark. The leaves are lanced and are approximately 4 inches long. The black walnut tree also has green, inconspicuous flowers that produce pollen in early spring. The fruit of this tree is the walnut, which becomes ripe in late fall and resembles a green tennis ball that is an average of 3 inches in diameter. Pruning is necessary for the health of the tree and the fruit.

Step 1

Remove all dead and diseased branches from the tree. Using sharp pruning sheers, cut the branches at a 45-degree angle to prevent water from settling on the cuts. Prune your walnut trees in the first few years of growth during the dormant season or in late fall. This will be when the trees are still small and manageable.

Step 2

Locate the healthiest leaders on the walnut tree. The leaders are the tallest limbs that are growing upward.

Step 3

Remove all other limbs on the tree except for the main leaders and the smaller branches that grow directly below the leaders. These smaller branches grow in the same position as the main leader; leave these branches to force the main leaders upward.

Step 4

Remove all shoots that are growing out of the ground at the base of the tree. Cut the shoots as close to the ground as possible.

Step 5

Apply a pruning salve on all cuts to help prevent the tree from bleeding out. This will also help fight disease and rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning sheers
  • Hack saw
  • Pruning salve


  • University of Minnesota: Growing Black Walnut
  • Perdue: Pruning Black Walnut
  • Non-timber Forest: Black Walnut
Keywords: pruning walnuts, trimming walnuts, pruning nut trees

About this Author

Melody Dawn has been writing since 2004. Her work has appeared in the "Gainesville Times" and her writing focuses on topics about gardening, business and education. She is a member of the Society for Professional Journalists. Dawn holds a Master of Business and is working on a Master of Journalism from the University of Tennessee.