I have seen some video Tutorials on apple tree pruning and I pruned this tree from what I have learned. But everyone in my family says You have butchered It. Is this the right thing to do or I went too far? pruned apple tree

and this is another tree. I cut one of It's main branches. Was it a right cut? enter image description here

  • Oh dear. That's bad. The whole thing looks awful. What were you trying to do? Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 21:08
  • I just wanted to open the center of the tree Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 22:02
  • Im assuming this was your first time pruning. Next time, get a professional to do it while you watch on and learn. Pruning doesn't come easy. It takes practice to get it done the way it should be and most certainty not through watching videos on it. You went overboard. What you were suppose to do was cut off crossing and inward growing branches but instead you went on and cut off some of the main branches. Your tree would live on but won't produce anywhere near like it did before for a long time. Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 22:20
  • thanks hamid. I did not know I should not remove main branches. Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 22:32
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    Thanks all for your help. Last night I had a dream I was looking on my hand. My fingers were upward. But my thumb was horizontal. I thought this finger will eventually break so I started cutting it. But I stopped after cutting half of my finger when I noticed it's not a tree. Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 20:33

3 Answers 3


Don't worry about people who say you butchered it. The tree didn't get into that state in one year, and it will take more than one year to sort it out.

It's hard to see exactly what you started with, since your picture has more trees in the background.

You have left some very thin tall branches. Looking at the thing that (I suppose) you climbed on to do the job, I guess the reason was because you couldn't reach them to cut them safely. The problem with pruning trees like this is that most of the branches are too thin to support a ladder, so the only real options are cut them off completely or do nothing to them, and you have to choose between those two bad options.

The tree was a complete mess before you started, and trees like that are not the best ones to learn on, because nothing is "how the tutorials say it is supposed to be like".

I would expect that this year, you will get a lot of new branches growing from everywhere, and not much fruit. Next year, get rid of the very tall branches that you left (even if there are apples on them, you are never going to be able to pick them!) and start getting the new growth to look like the tree you want to end up with. In three or four years, you might have a very nice looking and productive tree.

The picture of your second tree doesn't show what the top of the tree looked like, so it's hard to know if it would have been better to cut off the other branch, or leave both of them. But cutting it off isn't going to do any serious damage, so don't worry about it!


I wouldn't have cut this many limbs in one year (I try to stay under 3 big limbs a year (more than 3" in diameter) and not more than 1/4 of all total limbs (twigs under 1/2" diam don't count), but you started with a tree that was way out of control. The main problem would be if you cut too many limbs too close to growing season. If the sap is already flowing and the tree is already making buds as they are here in Oklahoma, you'll need to watch it and see if it is seeping a lot of sap. If so, go get a tree specialist. If not or if you are way up north where the trees are still completely dormant, it's already done, so don't worry about it. You did open up the tree, so eventually, it could look better than before. I've always been more interested in the long-term look of a plant rather than what it looks like today.

I am concerned more about where and how you made your cuts. Most beginners don't know where to cut. You don't ever want to cut the limb too close to the limb that it grew from or you risk injuring that limb. There is a ring around where it grew out; you should not cut that ring. You also should not start cutting on the top side of a limb and keep going until it breaks off--it could tear off a lot of the bark below that way or even break off the limb it was attached to. You should start cutting a large limb from the underside, then cut from the top after you have a good slice below so that it won't tear when it comes off.

You should probably take some close-ups of several of your cuts and let us see. If you did a lot of damage, you might need to have a specialist come out. Don't panic though, a few bad cuts won't kill the tree. It depends on how many bad cuts, how bad they are, exactly where they are, (large limbs vs. smaller limbs, etc.), and whether the sap is already flowing.


I would cut more to give an open center ,but don't remove more than one third of the branches. I have a big old fig ( different pruning requirements) , I try to take a third each year but usually get tired before I get that far. Although not the same topic , I like the philosophy of a guideline in a fruit tree pruning pamphlet by the U of IL -" Prune when the shears are sharp".

  • I dont know if my pruning is more than 1/3 or not. please comment on that. And Hamid sabir has commented that my pruning looks awful. I don't know why? Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 22:14
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    Well, of course it looks awful right now. It looks like a tree where half the branches have been cut off, which is exactly what it is! But wait till it has been growing again for 6 months before you decide whether it really "looks awful".
    – alephzero
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 23:08
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    This got me motivated I took out the pole chainsaw and cut off 6 branches 2 to 4 " diameter off my fig. Cuts were more where I could get the saw than aesthetics. . In a week the leaves will be out any no cuts will be visible. Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 16:37

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