Flowering cherry trees need annual pruning to prevent diseases and pests. Pruning also controls growth and enhances the beauty and shape of the tree. Your tree should have a scaffold appearance, with a main trunk or leader and branches that are perpendicular to the trunk.
Evaluate the size and shape of the tree. Determine the desired shape before trimming to prevent overpruning or underpruning.
Place a ladder securely under the tree to reach upper sections. Pinch off new growth at the tips to control the size of the tree.
Remove dead or damaged branches. Use hand shears for branches less than 1 inch in diameter; use lopping shears or a pruning saw for larger branches.
Trim any branches that cross over or rub against one another. Use the pole pruners for parts of the tree you cannot reach safely from the ladder.
Make clean cuts, leaving no stub. Leave the collars of the branches intact; a cut too close to the trunk can damage the tree.
Make sure the branches have approximately 2 feet of vertical space between them to allow enough sunlight to penetrate to the lower limbs. Make any "heading back" or trimming cuts about 1/4 inch above a bud or lateral branch.