Fruit Tree Pruning and Espaliers

Leaf, Root & Fruit offer fruit tree pruning services

Leaf, Root & Fruit offer fruit tree pruning masterclasses

Neglecting to prune your fruit trees won’t stop production of fruit. However, we recommend you prune annually to improve the quality of fruit and to establish a strong framework of branches to support heavy fruit loads. Pruning fruit trees can result in larger fruit that is easier to harvest. The tree will be much tidier and takes up less space in the garden. We’ve put together a quick guide for when you should be pruning your trees. But, if all of this seems a bit confusing or too difficult, get in touch, we’ll arrange to come and conduct your own private pruning masterclass.

Winter Pruning

Winter pruning of fruit trees usually results in vigorous growth. The harder the fruit tree is pruned in winter the more vigorous the growth will be in spring. Winter pruning is used to train a tree to a particular shape or to encourage substantial growth. Winter pruning is recommended for newly planted trees up until the tree has achieved the desired height and shape. Winter pruning time for other fruit trees is from autumn, when the tree is beginning to lose its leaves, through to spring,as the flowers are beginning to open. We recommend winter pruning is carried out in June and July.

Summer Pruning

In general, summer fruit tree pruning retards growth. The already established framework is maintained. The new growth that follows is tamed and is much less vigorous than growth following winter pruning. This allows more energy to be put into fruit. Once a system of summer pruning is established, very little winter pruning of the framework is required. We prefer to do most of our fruit tree pruning in summer. Summer fruit tree pruning is best performed immediately after all the fruit has been harvested. Usually in February or March

Citrus Gall Wasp

Citrus Pests and Diseases Melbourne

Citrus Galls caused by the Citrus Gall Wasp are traditionally pruned out in late winter. However, we don’t advocate for doing this.

The presence of large swellings or bulges on the branches of citrus trees is quite common in Melbourne. These swellings indicate that Citrus Gall Wasp has infected the tree. This tiny native Australian wasp lives for 3 to 4 days and lays its eggs in the branches of the citrus tree. It is the tree’s ‘reaction’ to this egg-laying which produces the next year’s Gall Wasp. See our blog post on citrus gall wasp for why we DON’T advocate for pruning the galls out.

Fruit Tree Espaliers

Don’t think that you have enough room to grow a fruit tree? Why not try an espalier or two? “Espalier” refers to special practices for training fruiting trees onto trellises. Espaliers save space and are beautiful works of art. There are many styles and designs of espalier that can be grown against a wall, a building or on an existing fence or wires. Espalier can also be used as a screen in the garden, to create rooms or to hide unsightly areas.


Espaliers can use space along the drive that would be too small for a full tree. They provide interest in all seasons: stunning form in winter, flowers in spring, fruit in summer and autumn’s foliage. Most importantly, they provide healthy, home-grown fruit for your family.

Winter is a great time for planting, setting-up, pruning and maintaining espaliers. Established, potted, espalier trees are very expensive to buy. What’s more, they are often grown on the wrong rootstocks. This means that they’ll be a lot of work to maintain their established espalier shape. We can help you select and plant bare-rooted fruit trees on the correct rootstock and espalier them into stunning art forms. We can also help with re-working and restoring existing espaliers that have been neglected. Re-working and restoration of espaliers can be carried out during most of the year.

Fruit Tree Pruning Masterclass

Please note: we will no longer be offering fruit tree pruning services.

Instead we are focusing on supporting growers to have the confidence to prune their trees themselves. We now offer a two-hour fruit tree pruning masterclass in your own garden. By the end of the session you’ll have a much greater understanding of:

  • Tree physiology and “why” a tree grows the way it does
  • Types of cuts we make in pruning and their consequences for the tree
  • Different shapes we can train the tree into
  • Timing of pruning and consequences
  • Tools used for pruning and their maintenance and care
  • How to prune different types of fruit trees to maximise fruit production
  • How to set up and maintain espaliers

Our fruit tree pruning masterclasses focus heavily on understanding the science behind pruning. This enables our clients to better understand the consequences of their actions. It will give you the confidence to manage your fruit trees yourself.

Fruit tree pruning Masterclasses are available in garden’s right across Metropolitan Melbourne:

  • Our travel costs are included in the price
  • All tools and equipment are provided
  • A handy set of notes (with images) are provided to each participant.

Cost  is $400 (inc GST) for the two hour session (weekdays only). You are welcome to invite other friends and family to participate and share the costs (up to a maximum class size of 4 people).

Please note this pricing is for domestic classes only. Organisations such as councils should refer to our Workshops Page for alternative options and pricing for larger groups.

If you would like further information on maintaining fruit trees, then please sign up to our Science of Edible Gardening Workshop Series. The May and June workshops (repeated annually) in the series focus heavily on orchard set up and management.

Some reviews of our fruit tree pruning classes (taken from our Facebook Page)

My fruit trees where over grown and out of control. Duncan gave me a masterclass in winter pruning. I learnt a lot in one afternoon. Great service, great experience. – Robyn Wright

Thank you Duncan for an excellent job of pruning the trees. Also for your great advice to me, in how to approach pruning. There is a lot more to it than I thought!
I would recommend Duncan to anyone who wants some one who cares about all aspects of gardening and planting. – Kaye Graham

Book your Fruit Tree Pruning Masterclass below

We ask you to select three possible appointments for us to meet with you.

This enables us to select one of those three options based on your geography and those of other scheduled appointments. Optimising our schedule and travel routes to different parts of Melbourne reduces our carbon footprint and enables us to keep the cost of this service as low as possible for you.