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  1. #1
    Apple Betty is offline Seedling
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    Default "Renovating" old apple trees

    Hi all - can I ask for advice on renovating old apple trees.

    We added to our garden with part of an old orchard but all that was left were 2 apple trees (and 6ft high nettles, docks etc). These 2 trees are well over 30ft tall and most of the branches are beyond reach even with a ladder. They both fruited really well this year (1 definitely a cooker, the other I'm not sure but they were 'sharp') but I could only gather them from the ground so lots of bruised & battered. All the top branches are really crowded/overlapping/rubbing etc.

    I've read as many books about pruning as I can find but all they mention is to open them out to let air circulate etc but without a fireman's help I don't think we would even able to reach!

    Would it be too much of a shock to the tree to really 'prune' the top out ie take off whole branches rather than try to thin them out? Both trees do have new shoots lower down (3ft ish long) but obviously these will take a while to grow and the tops really do need sorting out.

    Any advice anyone can offer would be greatly received.

  2. #2
    SarzWix is offline Gardening Gnomette
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    Honestly? If you can afford it, I'd recommend getting in a tree surgeon for the initial "major haircut"... I too have read numerous books on pruning, but there's so much needs to come off our older apple tree that I just daren't do it, and the T.S. will be here within the next few weeks. He's quoted me 60 for one big tree & one smaller one.

  3. #3
    Nicos's Avatar
    Nicos is offline 'Allo 'Allo !
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    Default

    Are you in a major apple growing area-there may be a few experts at the local fruit nurseries who can help you?( can you put a rough location on your profile??)

    Good to hear you're not going to chop them down as so many peeps seem to want to do these days!

    As far as I recall- most trees which need drastic pruning should be done over a couple of years so as not to shock the tree so much. I imagine this would apply to an apple tree too. There are a couple of apple experts on here- lets hope they can advise.

    Oh- and by the way....welcome to the Vine!!!

  4. #4
    FB.'s Avatar
    FB.
    FB. is offline Early Fruiter
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    If they were my trees, I would do one of the following (in order of preference):

    1.
    Leave them alone and admire them for the fine, mature specimens they are.

    2.
    Get a professional to tidy them up.

    3.
    Cut them down.

    Anything over about 12ft generally means that there is no way the average person will be able to take proper care of them.

    I would leave the big trees as they are, and, if you want apples, plant some "bush" apples on a semi-dwarfing rootstock (such as M26 or MM106). Admire the big trees and take proper care of the "bush" trees that you should be able to maintain at a manageable height; between 6-12ft.

  5. #5
    Mcbee's Avatar
    Mcbee is offline Sprouter
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    Default

    [
    3.
    Cut them down.

    Hopefully this isn't what you'll resort to - but if does become a consideration you might need planning permission. I think you need this if you want to cut down trees that are more than 25 yrs old - but thinking about it, that might only be if you are in a protected area!

  6. #6
    BrideXIII's Avatar
    BrideXIII is offline Early Fruiter
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    Quote Originally Posted by SarzWix View Post
    Honestly? If you can afford it, I'd recommend getting in a tree surgeon for the initial "major haircut"... I too have read numerous books on pruning, but there's so much needs to come off our older apple tree that I just daren't do it, and the T.S. will be here within the next few weeks. He's quoted me 60 for one big tree & one smaller one.
    that's a good quote, i got a quote from a local firm for my mum, it started at 150
    Vive Le Revolution!!!
    'Lets just stick it in, and see what happens?'
    Cigarette FREE since 07-01-09

  7. #7
    kentvegplot is offline Tuber
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    I'd get a quote from a tree surgeon. Last February had some very old trees done - it looked drastic at the time, but they have already responded well.
    Growing in the Garden of England

  8. #8
    Apple Betty is offline Seedling
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    Default

    Many thanks for the replies so far.

    Chopping them down is not an option - we watched while the rest of the orchard was destroyed before we owned it and that was heart breaking.

    My initial thoughts were of contacting a tree surgeon but was afraid the quote would be into 3 figures (and not necessarily beginning with a 1). I might see if I can get a free appraisal from one of them first, to see what can be done.

    Living in Bramley country I should be able to find someone 'in the know' - I'll see if I can find anyone.

    However if any of the above mentioned 'apple experts' have any knowledge to impart - please do so.

    Thanks all!

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