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Learn to Prune on Your Trees

When you want to learn to prune and care for your new or established trees, my favorite way to do this is to teach you the art of fruit tree pruning using the example of your specific trees. General fruit tree pruning classes are great, but they often use trees that have been well shaped from their original planting, or trees that look nothing like yours at home. It can be hard to apply those lessons to your own wild and wooly trees at home, so sometimes you end up with more questions than answers. Using your own trees, we will go over the specific decisions you will need to make this year and into the future to set you up for success. You'll build a foundation and get to experience the DIY satisfaction of learning to work with your trees. 

TIMING. Winter pruning is done February through April. Summer pruning is done June - August. 

 

In general, winter pruning is done to stimulate growth and shape the tree form by signaling the tree where to put its energy and where not to. Summer pruning is an important time to prune when trying to control and manage tree height.

Image by Veronika Diegel

Planting New Trees

Many things have to be considered when planting new fruit trees: site selection (soil fertility, water drainage, sunlight), planting depth, tree variety selection, pollination, individual tree selection.

These planting decisions and the first 1-2 years of pruning and training set the stage for the tree's form and the fruiting productivity that your trees will have, or not have. 

I can help you with planning, site selection, how to pick out a tree variety and how to shop for individual trees, planting and first year pruning cuts.

TIMING. The best time to plant successful fruit trees in the Treasure Valley is when the trees are dormant, in March and early April. Start with a bareroot tree. Bareroot trees can be uninspiring to look at on first glance, but they are inherently healthier and more adaptable than trees that have been stressed by living in a pot they don't belong in for years. Bareroot tree plantings will tend to outpace potted trees in year 2. 

Where to find bareroot trees? North End Organic Nursery on Chinden is my favorite Boise nursery. The Purvis Nursery and Orchard in Homedale is a good choice for finding trees that are tailored to backyard growers with appropriate rootstocks and locally successful varieties. Ordering bareroot trees online can be great for selecting specific varieties and rootstocks that local nurseries don't supply. 

 

Image by Ekaterina Novitskaya

First and Second Year Pruning and Training

The first and second year pruning cuts are crucial for establishing the shape and productivity your trees will have. After year 2 the options for what your tree could be become more limited. Training refers to using weights or spreading sticks to encourage form in ways that pruning cuts alone cannot.

TIMING. Pruning and training can be done any time of year, but there are two generally established pruning timeframes for best results - winter pruning and summer pruning. In general, winter pruning is done to stimulate growth and shape the tree form by signaling the tree where to put its energy. Summer pruning focuses on thinning cuts and is the best time to prune when trying to control and manage tree height.

 

For most trees and new trees especially, winter pruning is the most important, done from February through April. Summer pruning is done June - August. 

Image by Alisa Anton

Mature Tree Pruning

Already have established trees that need some love and direction? Not to worry. While planting new trees gives the most options for growing a specific tree form, there are almost always ways to improve the ascetics and productivity of established and even neglected fruit trees. Have mature trees that just don't produce fruit? Chances are, they have not been pruned for fruit yields. It's not uncommon to see trees where tree owners or even arborists have pruned the fruitwood off every year.

TIMING. Pruning and training can be done any time of year, but there are two generally established pruning timeframes for best results - winter pruning and summer pruning. In general, winter pruning is done to stimulate growth and shape the tree form by signaling the tree where to put its energy. Summer pruning focuses on thinning cuts and is the best time to prune when trying to control and manage tree height. Winter pruning is done February through April. Summer pruning is done June - August. 

Image by Michael & Diane Weidner

Additional Maintenance

For best results with fruit, trees need some care throughout the year. Fruit need to be thinned, some trees, like peaches, can require bracing limbs that are heavy with fruit. Applying compost, organic fertilizers, dormant organic sprays to fight pest problems, planting companion plans to support soil fertility and stimulate growth. Most of these are easy to do yourself with a few good instructions, but I am also available to help with them directly.

Image by Kristina V

Cost Estimates

For your specific needs, please contact me for a quote. Cost varies based on tree size, complexity, location, and level of care needed. 

Image by Skylar Jay
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Get a Quote

Let's see how I can help you. Fill out the fields below, or send an email directly to formandfruit@gmail.com. Include your location, the nature of the work you want done (new tree planting, consulting, pruning and training) and include photos of existing trees.

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