Pruning hedges and fruit trees

26 August 2017

The weather is nearly always the first topic of conversation among gardeners so I will not try to break with that tradition. Well-made plans of starting lawn-care programmes have been shot to pieces by the prolonged period of drought and then by very unsettled periods with heavy rainfall. As lawn care can be carried on until the end of September we decided to change priorities over the last couple of weeks. The period just after mid-summer is a good time for doing various pruning tasks, so this is what we have turned our attentions to of late.

Hedge Pruning: For maintaining established hedges, early August is the best time as it allows the hedge to regrow a little before the winter without masses of lush new growth. Come the following spring it does not surge away in response to a hard winter prune. It is particularly important for beech hedges as it helps to retain the old leaves over winter. We have managed to shape up nearly all our hedges in and around the garden using our very useful new pole pruner. This enables us to do all the pruning from the ground and much less aching shoulders the result being we can develop that perfect ‘A’ shape that is best for hedges, preventing bareness low down.

Fruit Trees: Summer pruning of most types of fruit trees is very useful for keeping trees compact and increasing yields. We had to do quite a lot of hard winter pruning on most of the freestanding trees in the orchard earlier in the year, as they had not been well shaped in the past. To stop excessive new growth as much fruit bud was left on as possible as this takes a lot of energy from the trees. The response to that pruning was still quite strong, however it gave us lots of bushiness lower down the branches. In late July/early August by removing a lot of that early new growth and encouraging it to grow more horizontally rather than upright, we can develop a tree that can be picked mainly from the ground and at the same time encouraging lots of fruiting spurs. This was done to all the apples and pears, including the ones growing on the walls; with the stone fruit, plums and cherries, pruning was very minimal as they can be very prone to diseases entering the pruning cuts.

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