How to Prune Mature Apple Trees

Pruning can lead to more bountiful crops. image by WxMom:


Pruning removes part of an apple tree to make it healthier. Pruning controls and directs the growth of branches, repairs damage and allows you to rejuvenate a mature apple tree. Apple trees start producing fruit on 2- to 3-year-old branches. The best time to prune apple trees is when they are dormant in the late winter or early spring.

Step 1

Use pruning loppers or a long-handled pruning saw to remove dead or damaged wood. Make your cuts at an angle and close to the beginning of the branch. The stubs should be no longer than 1/4 inch.

Step 2

Remove any branches growing toward the trunk or toward the soil.

Step 3

Prune off branches that cross or rub against one another.

Step 4

Remove thin twigs with a pair of hand pruners. Snip away any water sprouts and suckers.

Step 5

Cut the ends of the branches. This will cause new growth to form along the branches to either side.

Step 6

Paint large wounds with a light layer of latex paint. Most pruning wounds do not need this type of care, but it will help protect the trees from insect infestation.

Tips and Warnings

  • Protect your tools by washing them with hot, soapy water after each use. Thoroughly dry the tools and store them in a dry place. Do not put your tools away with sap and soil on them--it will cause the blades to lose their sharpness.

Things You'll Need

  • Long-handled pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Paintbrush
  • Latex paint


  • "Guide to Growing Delicious Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs;" Miracle-Gro; 2005
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: Training and Pruning Trees
Keywords: mature apple trees, pruning, plant care

About this Author

Karen Carter spent three years as a technology specialist in the public school system and her writing has appeared in the "Willapa Harbor Herald" and the "Rogue College Byline." She has an Associate of Arts from Rogue Community College with a certificate in computer information systems.

Photo by: WxMom: