How to Prune Old Mossy Apple Trees


With the proper care and growing conditions, apple trees can provide you with baskets of ripe apples every year. They have an average life span of around 50 years, and toward the end of their life, their branches begin to age and become fragile. Older apple trees sometimes grow moss on their branches. The moss hold moisture close to the branches cause them to rot much faster. Pruning these old apple trees to remove the moss covered branches will help keep your apple tree around a little longer.

Step 1

Prune the apple tree in the spring before it begins to sprout and the danger of frost has passed.

Step 2

Remove as much moss as possible from the trees branches, by simply pulling it from the branches. Look for branches that are black and soft to the touch; this is a sign of branch rot. These branches will have to be pruned away.

Step 3

Remove the lower branches first. Use pruning shears for smaller branches. If an entire lower branch is covered and rotted, cut it level with the main trunk of the tree with a hand saw.

Step 4

Remove any moss-covered or damaged branches with loppers. If higher branches are covered or damaged by the moss, you may have to use a hand saw to remove them. Saw where the branch joins the main trunk.

Step 5

Gather the branches and trimmings and place them on a compost pile, or dump them at a designated area. Diseased branches can kill grass and other plants.

Tips and Warnings

  • Moss-covered branches are generally rotted. Use caution when working with the apple tree. Rotted branches can easily break loose. Wear a hard hat.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Hand saw
  • Stepladder
  • Garden loppers


  • University of New Hampshire: Pruning Apple Trees
Keywords: pruning older trees, apple tree pruning, pruning apple trees

About this Author

Jason M. Bruner is a freelance writer who has been in the field for more than five years. His content has been previously published on sites such as eHow.