The procedure for pruning a patio or dwarf peach tree is the same as pruning a standard-sized peach tree, with a few exceptions. A patio peach tree does not need to be pruned for height restrictions the same way a full-sized peach tree does. However, it still needs to be pruned in a way that allows light to penetrate the canopy and to create a strong scaffolding system. The pruning of a patio peach tree should begin in the first or second year that it is planted. Prune your patio peach tree when the buds begin to slightly swell in early spring.
Prune the patio peach tree the first year as the buds begin to swell. Prune the tree at the height where you would like the main branches to be, leaving three or four buds, or stems if available, on the main trunk that will become your scaffold branches. They should be located on opposite sides of the tree. Cut the trunk one-half inch above the top scaffold bud or stem. Keep in mind the height of the trunk remains the same throughout the life of the tree. It will be the scaffold branches that grow up and and out, giving the peach tree its ultimate open vase-like shape. Remove any growth below the scaffold branches.
Allow the scaffold branches to grow for the first year. Don't expect a crop of peaches the first year, as you are preparing the tree for production from year three forward.
Prune the ends of the scaffold branches the second year when the buds begin to swell in the spring. Cut 1/4 inch above a bud on the scaffold branch that will go in the desired direction. If you cut above a bud that is on the top of the scaffold branch, growth will be upwards. If you cut above a bud that is on the bottom of the scaffold branch, growth will continue outward. You want the growth to continue outward. During the summer, other branches will grow upwards from your scaffold branches from the remaining buds. If they grow fast and vigorous, and the shoots remain green, they are water sprouts and should be cut back to the main scaffolding branch. If they grow slowly and look like the rest of the peach tree, those are the branches you want to keep. Those will be your production branches the following year.
Prune out dead and diseased wood during the winter, and the water sprouts during the summer from the third year onward. Keep the patio peach tree shaped so that sunlight can enter the middle of the growth. Remember the previous years growth from the scaffolding branches is where the peach crop will be produced the next year. After the peach tree begins to produce fruit, only trim back the limbs that produced fruit the previous season the following spring.