Join the RHS today and support our charity
Free personalised gardening advice
RHS members get reduced ticket prices
RHS members get free access to RHS Gardens
Reduced prices on RHS Garden courses and workshops
020 3176 5800
Mon – Fri | 9am – 5pm
Help us achieve our goals
Make a donation
I have forgotten my password
Keep me signed in
Register for free to receive our newsletters, add comments to blogs/articles and to save content.
See what events are on near you and browse your bookmarked pages.
Inspiring days out and so much more
Pruning an apple or pear tree can be daunting for many gardeners. Rather than be put off completely or panic and inadvertently harm the tree back by excessive pruning, instead try our easy guide and enjoy a well-shaped, productive tree.
Have you inherited an apple or pear in the garden but haven't a clue what to do with it? Or planted a fruit tree but been too scared to do any pruning? If yes, this page is for you.
Prune your apple or pear tree in winter, when the leaves are off the tree.
Before getting started, remember;
If you're feeling more confident or think your tree is badly neglected and might need more drastic action, see our pages on winter pruning, winter regulated pruning and renovation of apples and pears.
Hopefully, if you stick to our five tips above, not too much will go wrong.
But getting up close and personal with your fruit tree might mean you spot other problems so here's what to do if you find;
Apples and pears: summer pruningApples and pears: growing and training as cordonsApples and pears: pruning new treesApples and pears: renovating old treesApples and pears: winter regulated pruningApples: identifying fruit budsEspalier training treesFan-trained trees: initial pruningFan-trained trees: established pruningPlums: pruning
the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9
In this fully revised edition, you’ll find updated advice by the RHS experts on what, when and how to prune.
RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.
Register for the site or sign in to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.
ralphy-kins on 10/12/2014
I have inherited 9 fruit trees 4 apple and 5 pear of difference sizes, where i work. they have not been pruned, and have watershoots on each tree. am i correct to cut these back to the knuckle of the branch, and then use the shape of tree to judge the rest of the prune?
Label on 15/12/2014
Hi, for renovation pruning see our webprofile on renovation pruning your apples and pears:
Label on 21/10/2015
My husband planted a few apple trees last spring and they have really grown over the past year. We want them to continue to grow and produce fruit. They could really use some pruning but we don't really know how to begin. I think that these tips will really come in handy as we really learn the proper way to take care of our trees. Thanks for sharing!
Eimorc on 18/11/2017
Hello, after many years of “haircuts“, I have a tree that looks just like you predict, with lots and lots of young shoots at the top. What now? Do I leave them be, on the basis that if I prune them I’ll just make the problem worse?
We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.
Join the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9