Renovate fruit trees

Give them a prune now to improve productivity

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Don’t be afraid to prune fruit trees – it can seem daunting, particularly if yours is slightly overgrown, but if you keep a few straightforward things in mind as you’re doing it you’ll greatly improve your tree’s health and productivity.

Arm yourself with secateurs, loppers and a pruning saw if needed, and your job will be much easier. Keep in mind the vision of an open, airy canopy, with branches that have room to breathe and aren’t congested – that’s what you’re looking for.

Plus, trees such as apples and pears fruit on new growth, so you don’t want to be lopping all that off – it’s more about removing a few older branches to let the new ones have their moment in the sun. Don’t prune too much off as this leads to whippy, upward growth called watershoots, which will be unproductive and look unappealing. Also, don’t simply shear new top growth off, as this will result in no fruit. Choose about 20 per cent of old branches to thin out, and make sure any congested branches are thinned out too – the centre of your tree’s canopy should look open and clear. Shorten a few old branches by a third and neaten any side trunk growth to raise the canopy. Always stop if you think you’re taking too much off!