How to Prune Bradford Pear Trees


Bradford pear trees are a variety of a pear that is native to China and Korea. They have a very good shape, bloom early and provide good color in the fall. The negatives, however, include the wide girth of the tree, because the angle of the branches is too narrow. The tree begins to push itself apart and can self-destruct when there is a wind or ice storm. Pruning the Bradford pear will maintain tree form and structure.

Step 1

Prune Bradford pear trees as late in the winter as possible to avoid winter injury. Summer pruning will dramatically cut the energy portion of the tree and result in less growth. You can prune as soon as buds start to appear, but you should wait until growth is a few inches long.

Step 2

Use a hand pruner to cut small, thin branches. Lopping shears or small pruning saws can be used for slightly larger branches. If you're dealing with branches that are about 6 inches in thickness, use a pruning saw. Chain saws will work on those thicker than 8 inches.

Step 3

Prune a central leader tree such as a Bradford pear by cutting the main, center branch of the tree. Place the cut 24 to 30 inches above the highest branch of the first set of 3 to 4 branches, which is called the scaffold whorl.

Step 4

Remove all branches that have grown directly across from one another on the leader or central stem. Also cut off any branches that grow from the leader with angles that are less than 60 degrees because these branches will break under a heavy fruit load.

Step 5

Choose a single leader in the center of the tree and cut off shoots that are competing with the leader. For the health of the tree, there should only be one central stem.

Step 6

Achieve crown raising by removing all the branches that are facing downward, at the bottom of the tree. This will give the tree a neater appearance and provide clearance below.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear goggles and gloves when pruning trees. Have someone else spot the ladder when you're climbing it.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Hand pruner
  • Small pruning saw
  • Lopping shears
  • Chain saw


  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
  • Forestry Resources Extension
  • The Master Gardeners
Keywords: Bradford pear, tree, prune

About this Author

Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.