Ornamental cherry trees (Prunus serrulata) bear ruffled pink blossoms in the spring, making them an attractive landscape tree. While elegant, these trees are short-lived, primarily due to pest and disease damage. Excess pruning stresses the ornamental cherry, rendering it more susceptible to diseases. Prune your ornamental cherry sparingly and with the goal of removing unhealthy wood. The best time to prune is in the late spring or early summer, after your ornamental cherry finishes blooming for the season.
Mix a solution of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water in a bucket. Place your pruning tools in the bucket.
Prune off the dead, diseased and damaged wood at its base, cutting off the limb without cutting into the trunk. Dip the pruning tools into the bleach solution to sanitize them between cuts to prevent spreading disease to healthy parts of the tree.
Cut off branches that cross against each other, since their rubbing will lead to wood damage. Cut low-growing branches that impede movement under the tree or branches that slope downward.
Trim back long branches using anvil pruners to control the size of the cherry tree, if desired.