If you just bought a house with a garden and found an old apple or a pear tree, here is what you can do to breathe some fresh life into it.
Gardens across the country are filled with old fruit trees that were planted decades ago and have become rather neglected. Even if you have the best will in the world, many of these trees cannot be returned to their former fruiting glory. However, if you’re not one to give up, you might just be able to breathe some fresh life into that old soul. If you want the delight of seeing your fruit tree flourish once again, and bring your lots of delicious fruit in the process, there’s a few pruning tips to follow.
When to prune mature fruit trees
Apple and pear trees should be pruned during the winter, after the leaves have fallen and before new spring buds arrive. Plum trees, meanwhile, should be pruned during the summer months to stop disease penetrating healthy limbs.
How to prune old fruit trees
Fruit needs light and airy conditions to ripen, so your aim should be to increase space between branches and allow as much light to penetrate through the tree crown as possible.
This means that you need to remove some central branches, trimming back the numerous dead, diseased and withered twigs as you go. Never cut off more than one quarter of the total tree in one season, and don’t cut any branches right back to the trunk or you might just kill your plant, instead of saving it.
Fertilising mature fruit trees
To give your old fruit tree the best chance of survival, take care to mulch and feed it with a general fertiliser in spring. This will ensure that your efforts to reinvigorate old plants are given the best chance of success, and you can enjoy tasty new fruits at the next harvest.