Before you start, be sure you have the right equipment for pruning. If you do not know what you need, ask the employees at your local garden shop. These are professionals there to help you out. And remember, “A good fruit tree should not make a good shade tree”.
While the apple tree is young you should concentrate on forming the shape of the tree. The trees that are bare-rooted should be cut approximately 26 inches (0,7 meters) above the ground to let the future tree branches grow at a pleasant height and make the tree strong against weather and wind.
Clothes pins can then be used to form the tree into shape, not letting the future branches compete with each other. Follow up on the development and remove everything that seems unnecessary or unnatural on the tree. By the first season you can remove the clothes pins and start pruning.
Cutting branches will allow new branches to emerge, try to get a satisfactory amount of branches and if necessary spread them so they won’t interfere with each other. Try to be one step ahead of the trees growth and never let a renegade limb outrun the others because this will inflict instability to the tree and also shade the other branches. This process should be kept ongoing all during the trees life. A well looked after tree is a healthy one.
When stricken by disease get rid of all the damaged parts and be strict when cutting. The disease can be larger and deeper than what you can see and you do not want to do the job more then once. When all the injured parts of the tree are gone, you need to get rid of the infected parts. Burning them are the most efficient way but you can also store it for later use or while waiting for a chance to throw it away. Just don’t let it lie around but get the disease-stricken parts away from the tree to avoid a new infection. And keep an eye out for more symptoms, be quick and decisive are the keywords.
That is more or less all you need to know about apple tree pruning. Do not be afraid to do it because an apple tree is quite sturdy and can take a couple of mistakes. And if the tree grows thick, do not be alarmed. It can be pruned down to a lovely fruit tree, just be careful and do not cut it all down at once. That might put a lot of stress on the tree and make it waste precious time on recuperating while it could be bearing fruits. But then again, do not be scared, a well pruned apple tree will survive for a long time and bring you fruit every season. And it will be a lot nicer to look at too.