How to Prune Crabapple Trees

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Crabapple trees are a beautiful addition to any landscape. They are also easy to care for, and pruning is an important part of that care. This guide will show you how to prune your crabapple tree to keep it healthy and looking its best.

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Why Prune Crabapple Trees

Pruning crabapple trees is important for two reasons. The first is to remove any dead or diseased wood which, if left, can spread decay throughout the tree and possibly kill it. The second reason is to control the size and shape of the tree. Crabapples are generally small trees, ranging in height from 10 to 20 feet, but some varieties can grow taller. Allowing a crabapple tree to grow unchecked will result in a large, misshapen tree with weak branches. Regular pruning will result in a smaller, healthier tree with strong branches that can better support the weight of fruit.

When to Prune Crabapple Trees

Crabapple trees are generally pruned in late winter while they are dormant. You can prune them in early spring before they bloom, but you may risk losing some flowers. Summer pruning is not recommended as it can stimulate new growth that will not have time to harden off before winter.

How to Prune Crabapple Trees

Crabapple trees are a popular choice for many home landscapers because of theirdisease resistance and ornamental value. Crabapples generally require little pruning, but there are a few key times during the year when pruning can help maintain the health and vigor of your tree.

Cutting back the central leader

One of the most important aspects of pruning a crabapple tree is to cut back the central leader. The central leader is the main vertical stem that grows from the center of the tree. Cutting back the central leader will promote the growth of lateral branches, which will create a fuller, more compact canopy.

To cut back the central leader, use sharp pruning shears to make a clean cut just above a lateral branch. The lateral branch should be at least one-third the diameter of the central leader. Make sure to remove any suckers or water sprouts that are growing from the trunk or branches.

Reducing the length of lateral branches

Cut back the length of lateral branches by 1/3 to 2/3 their total length. Cut just above an outward facing bud at a 45 degree angle.

Thinning out the canopy

Thinning out the canopy of a crabapple tree is generally done for two reasons: to let in more sunlight, or to reduce the weight of the branches. Canopy thinning is best done in the late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.

1.Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Cut these back to the point of healthy wood.

2.Next, remove any crossing or rubbing branches. These can damage the bark and lead to disease problems.

3.Finally, thin out the canopy by removing some of the branches growing in thick clusters. Cut these back to a lateral branch or bud.

Cutting back roots

Cutting back the roots of a crabapple tree will help to keep the tree small and encourage new growth. It is important to only prune a root system that is well-established and healthy. Pruning too much of the roots can stress the tree and make it more susceptible to disease.

To prune roots, start by using a shovel to loosen the soil around the roots that you want to remove. Then, use a saw or pair of pruning shears to cut through the roots. Be sure to make clean cuts so that the tree can heal properly. Try to avoid damage to any remaining roots.

After you have removed the desired amount of roots, replant any grass or other plants that were disturbed during the pruning process. Water the area well and keep an eye on the tree for signs of stress.

Crabapple Tree Pruning Tips

Summer is the best time to prune your crabapple tree. Here are a few tips to get you started:

-First, remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches. Cut these back to the point of healthy growth.

-Next, thin out the canopy of the tree by removing some of the lateral branches. This will help increase air circulation and light penetration, which can help prevent disease.

-Finally, trim back any long or wayward branches to create a neat, orderly shape.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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