Summer pruning

OK, with all this talk about pinching, grafting, etc I’d thought I’d ask what I think to be a very simple question. Summer pruning. When to do it? Can you do it more than once? Any time of the year NOT TO do it? Size control, just clip it like a hedge, or cut back to outward growth? Should one be concerned with inward growth, crisscrossing branches, etc? Anything wrong with opening up the center now, or is that a winter, early spring thing?

Reason I ask is that I am going to have to be heading out soon to do work on my peaches. Measured just 2 days ago and everyone has at least put on 18-24 inches of new growth already. If this keeps up this will soon put them out of bounds for this year. I’m hoping for a 4-5 ft cap this year then let them flush out one last time to get to the magic 7-7.5 ft height and keep them there. Right now after only 14 months in the ground and headed at 18-24 inches they are already well over 6 ft. I didn’t get hardly any flowers this year and I’m OK with that, but want to make sure for next season I don’t hurt myself now.

I just did some pruning on a couple of Plum trees and used all those things mentioned in your first paragraph,except clip like a hedge,which can be done,as I’ve seen in videos.
That will probably be done another 2-3 times again this Summer. Brady


For me (Inland Southern California Zone 9B) I usually have to summer prune twice. Usually in May and again in Late July or so. I mainly focus on reducing height and width but if there is too much growth in center I will take it out. I will leave some center growth as our summers can baked the wood.

I do not spend a lot of time like I used to, I was so scared to make a mistake, now…I just zip right along. I leave my crazy for winter pruning…lol.


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Do you normally prune to outward growth, or just cut at desired height regardless of direction? I’m wondering with my 4-in-1 plantings if I should focus this summer on removing inward growth to open the centers or leave it be and take it out late next winter/early spring.

Here is what I had last April:

And here was a few days back:



Great job on those trees. They look amazing.

I have no experience in the multi- planting set up but I think I would do the same. The center will just be more open until the trees get larger. I am unsure as to when the inward growth on multi planted trees should start. I think Mr. Clint has this set going on…maybe he can contribute.

For the most part do not worry about outward buds when summer pruning. Summer is just to control height, width and water spouts. Literally it takes me less the 5 minutes per tree). I clean everything up in winter (Crossing branches, outward buds, branch thinning etc…)

Well went out last night and gave everyone a haircut. Brought each tree in the grouping (set of 4) down to the smallest tree. Everything looks more uniform now. Some had to have only a few inches removed, and on the extreme side I had to remove a good 1+ft. Let me know what you think.

Sean, I just have to say that not only do those raised planter circles look wonderful, but your neighbors are lucky too, because those stone circles and healthy trees create a really nice landscape feature for them to contemplate, too. You have a great natural design sense!

Great start Sean!

If you trees have a lot of vigor, you will have to do this a lot more. I typically do not summer prune after July as there is not get a good flush of growth after that. I am not sure where your cut off would be.

Also good that you pruned to the smallest tree so they do not get over shadowed.

Does anyone know or have an opinion on the center of these? Should he start now and get rid of the inner growth? Is there a concern with air circulation it being so thick and all?


And I agree with Lizzy. Very nice!

I don’t have a 4 in 1 but I do have a 2 in 1 hole combo. I have pruned out all growth between the trees. I think it’s better to do it early.

After a year

Thanks so much for the kind words. Lots of long hours, blood and sweat went into making those things. Many thought I was crazy until after they were finished. After that they ask asked me if I worked for a landscaping company. They all wondered how I even came up with the design and how it turned out so well. They (the circles) have been in the ground going on 3 years and knock on wood haven’t even shifted. For the most part I think I did a pretty darn good job.

My next project is about 8+ feet closer to the house. A rectangle raised bed with 10 total plums running north/south in two rows. Rows 8+ feet apart, each tree 3-4 feet apart. The soil around here it’s just so horrible that when things do grow, they don’t grow all that much. Really smashes your spirit to see fruit trees put out 1 foot of growth for the whole season, or to see your pruning cuts produce 3 inch long branches. I have a 4 year old peach that has grown out a total of 18 inches since planting, and a cherry that has only produced 6 branches total from the initial pruning cuts on 4 limbs. Those 6 branches are around 4-5 inches long and it’s taken 3 years to get that. Since I planted these peaches they have just thrived. Don’t know if it’s the soil, the organic fertilizer, our the raised beds but they seem to like something.

Fabulous Sean! My bet is that they like the raised bed. That design is spot on.