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Pinch Pruning, an Urban Orchard Technique!

When living in the city or suburb areas you may have little or no yard to work. Since I am a country girl living in the suburbs, I have made my landscaping a combination of the beautiful flowers and the functional or edible. So when I selected the edible portion of my landscape, I made sure that it would grow well in my soil type and blend in with the other plants and flowers. One of the main things to consider when planting a garden is to make sure it is safe for children. One of my favorite berries is raspberries but their bushes have lots of thorns and if your kids are running around the yard and fall into the bush, they will get a lot of scratches. So as you can guess, I don’t have raspberry bushes. I am growing strawberries instead. They grow low to the ground and are easy for the kids to pick and eat right there and they love it.

But I want to talk about trees and how to make sure they fit in an urban yard. We first selected dwarf trees and ultra dwarfs to make sure they wouldn’t over take our yard or our neighbors yard. These trees will get about 6-7 feet tall and have a branch diameter of 5-6 feet. When grown, they should hang over our lawn a little and grow to our fence. It will make it easy to pick the fruit and keep it contained in our yard and also blend into our landscaping well. There is one problem though with these trees and that is sometimes no matter how low the graft is on the original tree or how it is arbored, they still want to get out of hand. Pinch pruning is the answer! You are basically bonsai-ing your tree into a dwarf tree. Here are the basic tips for pinch pruning:

  1. Do in the summer time.

  2. Take off the tops of branches when tree is young and branches are getting tall and gangly.

  3. Trim any branch that is tall and wobbly (less than a pencil width) that you know wouldn’t support fruit.

  4. Keep the trimming all about the same level so the tree will look topped like a hedge trimmer to keep it growing evenly.

All of the trimming will lead to more growth into the trunk of the young tree and prevent it from getting too tall and wild.

Here you can see me getting a lecture from my father the family farmer in pinch pruning my young trees.

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