Here is how our overgrown tree looked after steps 1, 2 and 3 of our crabapple pruning were completed. See Crabapple Pruning in 4 Easy Steps: Overgrown Mess No More (Part 1 of 3) and Crabapple Pruning in 4 Easy Steps: Overgrown Mess No More (Part 2 of 3) for details. Now, we will continue onto step 4 reducing overgrown branches. We will also cover the sometimes needed step of limbing up.
CRABAPPLE PRUNING: REDUCING BRANCHES
The 4th step to restore this crabapple was to reduce the length of branches to bring them into the outline profile of the tree. Reduction cuts were done on branches to shorten them as well as to remove smaller branches that are growing in the wrong direction.
Reduction cuts remove a larger branch back to a smaller-diameter side branch. When making a reduction cut, you should make sure that the smaller branch is at least 1/3 as thick as the branch you are cutting. If it is smaller than this, it is more likely to die back. Reduction cuts are commonly used in training young trees.
SOMETIMES NEEDED: LIMBING UP
The final stage of this crabapple pruning could have been delayed till next year. But, I decided to remove the lowest level of branches now. While these were pretty well structured they were too low to on this tree. It was growing in a lawn area that needs regular mowing; therefore they had to come off. If your crabapple is in a bed of mulch and is not going to be growing into other plants you may not need to do this. After pruning them off, I don’t know why I debated as the tree looked much better without them.
While more could be done, I already removed over 50% of the tree’s foliage. Thus to not subject the tree to even more stress, this crabapple pruning session was ended. Further refinement can occur next time.