Pruning Fruit Trees in Clark County, WA

Real Estate Broker/Owner with ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors

Proper Pruning is Good For Fruit Trees

Spring is here and, if you live in the country, hopefully you've already pruned those fruit trees in your yard. Growing fruit trees is not a passive activity – especially on rural property where you often find lots of them. They actually require year-round attention for optimum health and better fruit production. 

Obvious chores include watering and fertilizing during spring and summer. But trees also require attention during the winter, even though they are mostly dormant for that season.  In fact, late winter is the ideal time for pruning and spraying – hence the term “dormant” oil for the type of spray used.

Pruning May Seem Counterintuitive

Cutting off branches from a healthy tree might seem counterintuitive. But careful pruning removes unproductive branches and shapes the tree to produce healthier fruit. After pruning, we spray a light mineral oil that is compatible with organic gardening – no fungicide or herbicide.  The oil coats the branches and seals it from mites and other bugs that might show up during the spring bloom. 

For ideal conditions, trees should be dry with no foreseeable precipitation for at least 24 hours. Likewise, ideal temps should be close to freezing.  Although in some areas, you may be able to prune as late as April as long as the trees have not sprouted leaf buds.

This past winter was a real challenge because it was so wet. Our continuous days of snow and freezing rain made it nearly impossible to get out and take care of the trees.  Finally, with dry weather and temperatures still below 40, we found a perfect day in early March. 

Shaping The Tree For Better Fruit

While pruning is not that hard with the right tools, it helps to know what you want to accomplish with the trimming. A fruit tree continues to grow throughout the year, producing new shoots from its limbs.  Unless these shoots have fruit buds, they need to be pruned off. Otherwise, they divert nourishment from the branches that have fruit. Pruning helps direct the nutrients from the tree trunk to branches with fruit.

Likewise, the shape of the tree can determine how productive and healthy the harvest will be.  There are several schools of thought about this, but we prefer to prune the center lead (trunk) out. This helps the outer branches spread out and grow into an umbrella shape. The open center allows more air circulation and sunlight into the remaining branches, which helps blooming. This approach also makes it easier to harvest – as the outer branches bear fruit, they tend to bend down, making it easier to reach.  Proper pruning can help shape a tree into ideal production.

Sometimes Major Pruning is Necessary

You will often see a mature fruit trees laden with fruit at the very top branches. This makes the fruit nearly inaccessible when the tree hasn’t been pruned regularly.  We had a few mature trees on our property when we moved in four years ago.  They were overgrown with misshapen branches that criss-crossed inside the canopy. This not only creates a tangled mess, it also invites bugs and disease.  And, of course, the harvest was lacking.

So, two winters ago, we did a dramatic pruning that cut back many of the thick, older branches, and opened up the centers.  It is a scary proposition and, again, counterintuitive because it looks like the tree will die from all that major surgery.  Plus, trees often appear to “suffer” because they will skip a year in production as they recover.  However, after a major pruning, trees usually bounce back, and are healthier for it.

Proper Pruning Fruit Trees

And that was the case with our trees – there were no apples last summer. But spring weather has brought tons of flowering fruit buds, and the trees are thriving.  Plus, this summer, as the lower branches fill out, the fruit will be a lot easier to reach. Next winter, we will able to return to light pruning.

So don’t be afraid to trim your trees after you’ve determined how you want them to look. Regular pruning and dormant spray will keep them healthy and producing for years.

If you’d like to hear more about life in the country, with Nature as Neighbors, write or give us a call.

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ViewHomes™ grew out of our passion for nature, beautiful surroundings, and peaceful environments. Starting together in an urban environment, over the years we've gravitated towards areas with smaller populations and less density. We now enjoy our lifestyle in a rural environment, but with close proximity to metropolitan areas where we appreciate all the amenities of fine restaurants, shopping, and an easy drive to an international airport.
Living in ViewHomes™ is like having “elbowroom for the soul”.






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Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

I am cutting back rose bushes right now that are getting over grow and did not produce many roses last year.


Apr 24, 2019 07:36 AM #1
Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty
Waves Realty - Melbourne, FL
Florida Space Coast Homes

I do not have a green thumb. I need to pay people because all the trees would be dead at my house. I can grow pineapples though  :):):)

Apr 24, 2019 07:45 AM #2
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Thank heavens I have a person who prunes back what needs pruning in my tiny yard because there's like no way I'd be doing it, Debb!  The main thing that needs pruning each year is the crepe myrtle in my front yard. No fruit trees in my yard.

Apr 24, 2019 07:59 AM #3
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning again Debb. I really learned a great deal from this post and really enjoyed Bernie's video as well.

Apr 24, 2019 07:59 AM #4
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Will Hamm yes, they too require proper pruning. Good for you. Hope most of the cold weather has left your area by now. 

Hi Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty - pineapples are good! It's good that Bernie really enjoys the gardening aspect of our country lifestyle.

Apr 24, 2019 08:08 AM #5
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Hi Nina Hollander - I'm guessing fruit trees do well in your area though, right?  

Thanks Sheila Anderson - I'll tell Bernie. He felt he appeared a bit stilted, but I thought he did great. He hasn't spent as much time talking into a camera as I have...

Apr 24, 2019 08:10 AM #6
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

Debb and Bernie,

Ron and I loved this video.  We both enjoy pruning for the dormant season, and throughout the summer and fall.  Wishing you both a delightful day!  A

Apr 24, 2019 08:17 AM #7
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Debb... to be honest... I have no clue. I'm such a city girl I don't give two minutes worth of thought to trees! I just enjoy seeing them when I'm out.

Apr 24, 2019 08:36 AM #8
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is good advice to share. We do not have any fruit trees in our yard.

Apr 24, 2019 08:41 AM #9
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Debb,
Being from fruit country, you're singing my song here. Proper pruning is critical to a healthy tree to produce generous crops.   As you know, when there are little fruits on the trees, proper thinning is also important to avoid those biennial crops. 

Apr 24, 2019 09:30 AM #10
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Hi Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, I used to have a company do all the work for me but now, I prune my three lemon trees and four crepe myrtles in my yard, it's a lot of fun and relaxation for me. Although I feel bad after performing such heavy pruning that's necessary but definitely helps the trees.

Apr 24, 2019 09:44 AM #11
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Debb and Bernie- excellent information!  I wish we'd had this when we first moved to Florida years ago and had orange and grapefruit trees in our yard. Here we have to make sure to trim our crepe myrtle's in March or April and make sure they are trimmed for the right shape!

Apr 24, 2019 10:48 AM #12
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Great post on pruning Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD. I learned something new about adding light mineral oil to protect the bark from mites. 

Apr 24, 2019 12:01 PM #13
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Debb The video as well as the info in the blog is very informative.

Apr 24, 2019 01:38 PM #14
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

This is where I would struggle and have to rely on an expert, as I know that how a tree or bush is pruned will be beneficial or detrimental for it's healthy growth.

Apr 25, 2019 07:06 AM #15
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

We had a couple of peach trees at our previous home and it always surprised me how many peaches you have to sacrifice for a good crop. 

Apr 25, 2019 07:57 AM #16
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

You guys are so talented, we hired an arborist five years ago and they did all that for us, keep in mind I was such a novice that I thought we had a Lime Tree instead of a Naval Orange tree just for starters;))Endre

Apr 25, 2019 10:07 PM #17
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Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD

REALTORS® in Clark County, WA
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