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Steps for pruning a crabapple tree

  1. A crabapple with brown leaves may have apple scab disease, a fungal infection.
  2. Roger recommends removing any branches that are low enough to be bumped when mowing the lawn.
  3. When removing a large branch, use the three cut method. First, make an undercut about a third of the way through the branch.
  4. Next, make a top cut a few inches out from the undercut. This allows the weight of the branch to fall without damaging the bark.
  5. Finally, cut a flush cut just above the branch collar.
  6. Roger also recommends removing any branches that are rubbing together.
  7. Use a pole saw to cut any branches that are out of reach, using the same 3 cut method.
  8. Small branches, called suckers, can be removed along the large branches.
  9. Remove grass within a 4 foot radius of the trunk. Use a string looped around the trunk to determine the circle’s size and pull the grass by hand so as not to damage the tree roots. If no roots are present in the top of the soil, a grub hoe can be used.
  10. Spread mulch around the tree about 2” thick using a rake, keeping it away from the trunk of the tree.
  11. Where water can collect and cause rot, drill a ½” drainage hole.


All tools used, including pruning saws, pole saws, pruning sheers, and pruning poles are available to purchase (or rent) at a local home center.