Pruning Deciduous Fruit Trees

Audience at pruning workshop

Pruning apricot treesThis intensive half-day workshop covers the basic principles of pruning deciduous fruit trees, and how to establish a tree in the highly productive ‘vase’ shape that is suited to most backyards.  

Many backyard fruit trees are not pruned to their full potential: fruit grows so high in the tree that you can't reach it, branches break, or the tree doesn't have any fruit! Correct pruning can help remedy all these problems, plus keep your tree healthy and fruitful.

This workshop is taught by Katie who, as the chief pruner at Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens, prunes 5,000 cherry, apricot, peach, nectarine, plum, apple, and pear trees each year, including free-standing trees as well as trees on different trellis systems. This workshop will teach you how to train trees to the 'vase' shape because it's the simplest and most effective fruit tree shape for most backyards.

Pruning peaches by hand with secateurs

Because the workshop starts with the theory of pruning and the basic principles of how trees grow, you'll learn to predict how your fruit trees will respond to your pruning cuts.

You'll learn why some pruning is done in winter and some in summer, then you'll have a chance to practice pruning on real trees in the orchard. 

Pruning plum trees

Whether you have mature fruit trees in your garden or you haven't even planted them yet, you’ll learn how to set up and maintain your fruit trees so they’ll be productive for life.

By the end of this workshop you’ll have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to prune your deciduous fruit trees, and keep them productive and healthy for life.

"I think pruning is really difficult! Been to several workshops over the years and I vacillate between leaving the tree to do its own thing, and cutting off everything that is not absolutely where I think (!) I want it! Your workshop was excellent because (1) you were encouraging (2) you kept referring back to the basic principles – which makes us THINK, observe before we prune! "
- Clare Claydon

Who is this workshop for?

  • People already growing, or wanting to grow, their own fruit at home, including cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, and pears
  • People who are renting houses with fruit trees in the backyard
  • People who look after fruit trees in the community
  • People who already grow, or are thinking of growing, fruit commercially

What does the workshop cover?

  • The basics of pruning theory
  • Fruit tree anatomy
  • Knowing the right time to prune for different types of tree
  • Summer pruning of apricots
  • Predicting how trees will respond to different cuts
  • How to make a good pruning cut
  • Pruning techniques for different types of fruit trees, e.g., apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, and pears
  • How to prune young trees to establish the right shape
  • Maintaining and rejuvenating old trees
  • How good pruning helps a tree to stay healthy
  • What not to do when pruning
  • What pruning equipment you need

What's provided?

  • Comprehensive notes to take home

What you need to bring:

  • Your secateurs if you want to do the practical part of the workshop (please make sure they are clean and sharp)
  • Appropriate warm and outdoor clothing (the practical part of the workshop is in the orchard, you'll need a coat and hat, and covered shoes)

About Us

We – Hugh and Katie Finlay – draw on over 15 years' experience as orchardists at our farm, Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens, to bring you the Grow Great Fruit Program, the farm-proven system for home fruit growers.

To read the full story of our farming journey, click here 

MAFG Blog

Our blog gives a snapshot on various aspects of life on the farm. Currently Katie is documenting her journey as winner of the 2015 RIRDC Rural Women's Award for Victoria!

Visit the blog 

MAFG Forum

Grow Great Fruit Forum

Our Grow Great Fruit Forum is a place where our program members can access member resources, ask questions, and find answers to their specific fruit-growing problems.

Visit the Forum here.

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