How to Prune an Avocado Tree

Are you an avocado gardener and concerned about how to prune your trees? Although it may seem a little tough in the beginning, don’t worry. Gaining some practical knowledge and experience over time, you can prune your trees like a professional gardener. In this article, I’ll share with you what I have learned over the years about how to prune an avocado tree.

First, you need to select the proper tools to start the pruning procedure. Then utilize these tools to approach a variety of pruning methods to reshape your trees. In addition, you must consider the ideal timing, extensive sanitization, and preventive measures for a better outcome. Continue to read the rest of this article to know more about this.

Select the Best Tools Related to Pruning

pruning avocado tree
Table of Contents

1. Hand Pruners

Get yourself some good hand pruners. It will come in handy for branches that are less than 2.5 cm or one inch in diameter. If any unwanted smaller branches grow in the canopy, it will become a barrier for the tree to let through the sunshine. So, the earlier you cut them, the better it will be for the trees. These kinds of tools are comparatively smaller and will perfectly fit your hands while pruning. You will find them vital for removing or trimming any small branches in the canopy of the tree. You can also buy specialty hand pruners online or from the market. They are specially made with rounded tips so that you do not damage any fruits while pruning.

2. Protective Gloves and Sun Hat

You may need to stay out in the sun for a longer period while pruning. In this case, by yourself long-sleeved casual clothes that can be washed easily if they get dirty. In addition, use a visor or sun hat to protect your skin from sunburn. You can also wear gloves to protect your hand from getting bruises while pruning.

3. Strong Ladder

For easy access to the canopy of the trees, you may consider taking a strong ladder with you. If the ladder is made from steel, it will be strong enough and last long. For extra precaution, you can take help from someone who will hold the ladder for you. It will help you stabilize as you trim the branches. I recommend you buy an extendable steel ladder that will help you to reach the top of the tree. Because the canopy of the tree gets so congested sometimes, it may become hard for you to reach the top. In this case, just extend your ladder if you can to finish pruning the upper part of the tree.

4. Hedge Shears and Loppers

Buy Hedge Shears for trimming the excess leaves on the trees. You can also use loppers to cut branches thicker than 2.5 are 1 inch. You can find wooden hedge shears available on the market. The loppers will help you a lot in removing any large branches acting as a barrier at the base. While making any major cut, try to keep them within the line of the tree trunk’s contour.

5. Sharpening tools

Don’t overuse these tools, otherwise, they may become damaged or dull. Keep sharpening them often, this will come in handy while pruning.

Clean your tools before pruning:

The pruning tools you use, for example, loppers and hand pruners may contain fungus and bacteria. So, if you don’t clean them before pruning, your trees might get affected. Also, you need to clean the tools between each pruning, because you don’t want a healthy tree to get infected by another tree.

To avoid any infection, spray all your tools with disinfectant. Take a spray bottle and fill it up with a disinfectant spray. You can use rubbing alcohol or diluted bleach here. Carry this bottle with you and don’t forget to clean your tools as you move from one tree to another.

Know the correct time for pruning

To prevent shock, you should do major pruning only during early summer or spring. The ideal time for pruning is the initial weeks of summer and spring. You can prune back the branches in spring to promote an overall regrowth of the trees. In most cases, summertime pruning enhances the capacity for regrowth. As a result, the trees can grow taller and wider.

I recommend you to prune heavily only in warmer temperatures especially in summer. Because if you cut back excessively during the heavy winter weather or fall season, the avocado trees may get exposed to frost and cold temperatures. This will further slow down the fruit growth process and even damage the tree. Overall, try to do light pruning throughout the year.

Approach different methods to prune your avocado trees

  • Trim the canopy where necessary: As your avocado tree grows faster, it will have a wide and thick canopy of leaves, which will eventually stay hung at the bottom of the branches. In this case, you need to thin out or cut back a smaller portion of the canopy so that the branches at the bottom receive adequate sunlight. You can cut in such a way that the tree becomes pyramidal or conical. But make sure that you do not clear excess portions because it will expose the tree to direct sunlight that may lead to sunburn. If you can execute this process properly, this will clear out space in the canopy and create windows for better air ventilation.

  • Try reshaping the trees: If you notice that your trees are becoming too wide, you may need to reshape them. Use your loppers to cut off excess side branches. Try to focus on the smaller ones and prune them on each side. Maintaining a conical shape will provide you the best sun exposure. Do not prune too much or you may end up damaging the tree that will slow down the fruit growth. Also, watch out if the branches start to tangle with one another resulting in a blockage of irrigation and mowing.

  • Trim the extra branches at the top: As you plant a new avocado tree, you will notice that it doesn’t have a solid root system yet to support any extra height. In this case, utilize your loppers and trim the top branches of your trees to control their height. The procedure may even take up to 4 years to finalize. But try to do it slowly, a maximum of one branch each summer. If done correctly, you will reduce a significant amount of stress from the tree.

  • Cut off the dead branches: Check the trees properly and find out if there are any dead branches. If you keep them like that, they will do no good. So, take out your loppers and pruners to cut them off. Make sure to clear the portion above the tree trunk. But be careful that sometimes minor frost damage can make a branch look like a dead one. Therefore, inspect properly before cutting off any branches. If you can execute in the right way, your trees will grow more healthy branches, resulting in growth promotion.

  • Trim the water shoots causing imbalance: Sometimes you will notice that thick and leafy water shoots grow before avocado flowers start to show up in the spring. These shoots grow in the bark vertically. If you do not remove them, they can cause an imbalance in the trees. So, before the flowering starts, take your hand pruners and trim these leafy shoots. In this way, you can keep the trees healthier by controlling their lateral growth.

  • Repair broken branches by cutting off: If you experience any strong wind or storm recently, make sure to check your trees to find any broken branches. These broken branches will do no good to the overall health of the tree. So, you need to start removing them as soon as you spot them. Take your hand pruners and loppers and cut off any broken branches from their base. If you keep doing this from time to time, the tree will get more chances to recover after a disaster and get a boost for its overall growth.

  • Cut off any overgrowth of wild branches: Check properly if there is any excess growth of lateral branches that can be a barrier for the trees to stand vertically. Also, spot the wild growth of branches that may become a problem in the future. In these cases, use your loppers and trimmers to trim them or completely cut them off while they are still small. Do not wait too long or they may become big and difficult for you to cut. So, trim them off from the top and lower portions in time and you will remove a significant amount of stress from your trees.

Consider these precautions before pruning

Do not over prune your avocado trees. Just because you want to relieve your trees by removing stress does not mean you need to do heavy pruning. In most cases, over-pruning will cause your fruit trees to get damaged and that will take a longer period for recovery. It can even lead to stunt, fruit loss, sun damage, excess leaf growth on horizontal branches, and frost injury. Consider the season and surrounding atmosphere carefully before heavy pruning.

Wash your hands and tools with disinfectants properly before pruning. This will prevent any infections, bacteria, or germs from spreading from one tree to another.

Do not panic if your avocado fruit production is less during the pruning season. It is quite natural, and you do not need to do anything about it. While the pruning season gives you less output, you will surely receive a higher number of fruits in the next season.

Final Words

Avocados are very sensitive to pruning. Make sure to take preventive measures before you start pruning avocado trees. If you need any help, contact your nearby fellow gardeners and local garden centers. They can help you with their field knowledge and experiences. If you follow the proper pruning procedures and execute them in due time, you will surely receive an abundance of fruits during all seasons, summer, winter, and spring.