Pruning Fruit Trees – Thinning Or Rejuvenating?

To prune fruit trees properly, you need the right tools. You should also know what you want to do: thin out or rejuvenate? Practical tips for pruning fruit trees.

Pruning strategy
Without pruning, fruit trees branch out more and more. As a result, less light reaches the inside of the tree. The result is senescence and a sparse harvest. There are two important pruning techniques to prevent this.

a) Thinning

Thinning is when entire branches and twigs are removed from the main trunk of larger fruit trees.

The removal of water shoots (long shoots growing vertically upwards) is often also referred to as thinning pruning. However, this is more of a shortening or slimming. This is more commonly referred to as removing competing shoots.

b) Rejuvenation

In older fruit trees, mainly the old, gnarled wood is removed to make room for young, load-bearing branches. This is done in several stages over a maximum of three years, depending on the age and size of the tree.

The right tool


For pruning on smaller fruit trees, a hand saw, loppers and a sharp knife are usually sufficient. We distinguish between deadwood (very old, gnarled or hard branches) and young branches.

Pruning Fruit Trees - Thinning Or Rejuvenating?
Pruning Fruit Trees - Thinning Or Rejuvenating?

Unsuitable for flexible green wood are scissors that work on the anvil principle. In this case, there is a sharp blade on one side, and while the other side of steel is formed wider. Since the blunt side does not cut anything, they create crushing wounds that heal poorly. However, for old, very hard wood, these scissors are quite good, because they reduce the effort of cutting.

So-called bypass shears are better for the young, green and fresh branches, because they have two blades acting against each other, do not squeeze the branches when cutting and cut through quickly and cleanly. If you don’t want to climb a ladder, use additional telescopic attachments for the tools.

Take good care of wounds

Pruning Fruit Trees - Thinning Or Rejuvenating?

Smaller branches and soft shoots are simply clipped diagonally above a bud with pruning shears. For larger cuts, trim the edges smoothly with a knife. A wound closure agent (available in all garden markets) can be applied to a diameter of 3 cm or more. Only the outer ring of the cut is coated with it. In the course of the year, the wound then heals without problems.

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