A flowering crabapple tree can be a source of delight and interest during all of the four seasons. In the spring, crabapple trees burst forth with beautifully, delicate blossoms surrounded by lush dark green leaves. In the autumn, the small crabapples become ripe and the combination of the red crabapples and the autumn-colored leaves is enjoyable to many gardeners. When you keep a crabapple tree properly pruned, the structure of the tree will be solid and attractive, and the tree will remain healthy.
Examine the crabapple tree to find any damaged or dead branches. Remove these branches that are low enough for you to reach with the handsaw by cutting them immediately to the side of the branch collar. This is the slight swelling you will find where the branch intersects with the tree trunk. If you find any dead or damaged branches that are high in the tree, remove these using the pole saw in the same fashion.
Find any branches that are crossing over other branches, rubbing on other branches or are growing too closely together and making the tree too dense. Thin out areas where too many branches are growing too closely together. Branches growing in these conditions will not have adequate light or air circulation and fruit production will be lower in these areas. Use the handsaw or the pole saw to remove these branches just on the other side of the branch collar as well.
Control the height of the tree by performing "heading back cuts" with the pole saw along the top of the tree. Cut off approximately one-half to three-quarters of the new top growth of the tree to keep the tree's growth within acceptable parameters. Make all of these heading back cuts immediately above a bud.
Look for any suckers that are sprouting near the base of the tree. Use the hand saw to cut these off flush with the tree trunk.
Rake the leaves, fallen branches and other debris away from beneath the crabapple tree and dispose of these materials.