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This page shows three examples of real life, two year old apple trees before being pruned. We show how we will prune these trees in a month's time. Pruning a one year old tree is easy; cut the leader back by a third and tidy up the side branches. Pruning three year and older trees is also easy if you pruned correctly at two years old. We believe getting the pruning correct at two years old is the most challenging and that's why we have this page specially devoted to this subject.

Click here for a summary of the principles behind this pruning stage.


TWO YEAR OLD TREE NUMBER 1


Please click any of the pictures below to see a larger version.

Two year old apple tree - example 1 

The above apple tree has four suitable, already formed main branches. They are spread out reasonably evenly around the trunk which will provide a structure that is well balanced. Branches 2, 3 and 4 are formed at around the same height on the trunk which is not ideal but branch 1 is formed lower down which is good. Overall, we would leave those four main branches to form the basic structure of our tree.

Branches 2, 3 and 4 are definitely too vertical for our liking and for this reason we would prune away about three-quarters (harsher than normal) of those branches down to an outward facing bud. This will help open up the centre of the tree. Branch 1 is more horizontal compared to the other branches and it is also lower down the trunk so we would prune away about a third of the branch, again down to an outward facing bud.

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The picture below shows the base of the same tree - click the picture to enlarge it and see the detail and writing more clearly.

Base of a two year old apple tree

The base of the above tree has lots of stems and leafy growth which are not needed so all the stems should be pruned to within 3cm / 1in from the main trunk.

TWO YEAR OLD TREE NUMBER 2


Please click the picture below to see a larger version that has the branches numbered.

Two year old apple tree - example 2 

Number 2 tree above is a different proposition to number 1 tree as far as pruning is concerned. Firstly, all the growth is near the top of the trunk so it will not require any pruning lower down the trunk.

It has five main branches from the main trunk with branches 1 and 2 being conveniently lower down the trunk. We would definitely keep branches 1 and 2. We would prune away three-quarters of branch 1 to an outward facing branch - harsher pruning to force the branch to grow more outwards. We would prune away a third of branch 2 to an outward facing bud.

As far as branches 3, 4 and 5 are concerned we would prune one of them to within 3cm / 1 in of the main stem to stop it forming any further. We would keep two of the branches (keeping four in total) and prune away a third of each to an outward facing bud. The picture is not particularly clear but we would keep branches 4 and 5 of the upper three branches because they are spread out evenly and would provide good balance in conjunction with branches 1 and 2.

TWO YEAR OLD TREE NUMBER 3


Please click the picture below to see a larger version that has the branches numbered.

Two year old apple tree - example 3 

Number 3 tree deserves a round of applause! It has four strong branches evenly spaced both round the main trunk and up and down the main trunk. Possibly the distance between the lower two branches and the upper two is a bit too far but overall this is the classic two year old tree which text books and other websites imagine when describing how to prune a two year old tree

We would simply prune away a third of all four branches to an outward facing bud. Although this tree is in a pot (which raises it up about 45cm / 18in from the ground) the pruning principles are the same as for trees in the open ground.