Cherry tree pruning


So I have these two small cherry trees that I planted, into a very small garden, when we bought our house over a decade ago. With the idea to try my hand at espalier. (Yes, I know, not one of the recommended fruits, not for the novice, etc.)

But I didnt quite do it by the book, as it were. Early on I ‘topped’ both trees, to create lateral growth and keep them small, and easy to care for. Over the years, I muddled forward and these two, quite hardy, little trees stuck with me as I learned my way along.

Over the last couple of years I have enjoyed more cherries, than the first years provided. Still, I’m not getting younger and I needed a better way to net, plus keeping a cherry tree to a frame is next to impossible, it turns out.

Which brings me to where I am now. I am currently freeing them from there frames and reshaping them into more globe like shapes so they get more air circulation, at the same time I am addressing the netting issue.

The taller of the two trees, once it was topped, produced most of its growth well below the stump of the cut. And has been so for several years. The growth, lower and on either side, is robust and productive.

There is a couple of feet of vertical stump above the productive growth. As I’m currently pruning and reshaping (into somewhat roundish), I would like to take some of that down.

How much can I cut off? How close to the lower growth? Make the cut straight across? Or at an angle? Should I protect the cut, in anyway after?

(I’m in London Ontario, it’s a very sunny spot, the soil is very well drained, tends to dry.)

Thanks for any advice you may have!




Hello Linda, very interesting question.  It would be helpful to  include a photo as it is difficult to picture  how you are going about “morphing” these trees!  Certainly quite a project.  As to your questions; I would really have to see the stump to best suggest what your “next steps” are.  Typically cutting off a stump would be discouraged as you would be opening up the possibility of infestation by pests or disease.  If you topped your trees some time ago, the trees have gone through the healing process and that “wound is sealed”.  If you have decided to take that stump off  I would suggest leaving 8 -12 inches  from the current growth, if your wish is to promote more growth, then you should cut in the early spring, but if this is not your intention you could make the cut now.  It is not a good idea to make the cut in the late fall, and definitely do not treat with any “sealing solution” as this only makes it harder for the tree to heal itself.  

This link may be helpful to you:


It is clear that these trees are important to you, so you might consider getting advice from a professional arborist.  The following link from landscape Ontario will help you locate one in your area.

I hope this is helpful, good luck with your cherry trees!