When cared for properly, the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) can reach a height between 8 and 15 feet, with a spread as large as 20 feet. The tree is characterised by dark, flaky bark and leathery leaves. Humans and birds alike consume its sweet red or yellow fruits; this type of tree in a garden can attract a variety of wildlife. The strawberry tree grows to its tallest and firmest when pruned properly and carefully.
Prune the strawberry tree in early spring before the blooming season. This will promote more healthy growth in the growing season, when the tree can easily recover from the pruning.
Prune the tree so that it grows with a single, strong trunk. Cut away any excessive twists or splits that may cause a second trunk to grow. Strawberry trees will try to grow multiple trunks, but are easier to control with one strong trunk.
Trim branches below the desired canopy level. Strawberry branches will droop as the tree grows, reducing visibility of the boot and limiting the vehicles or people that can pass below. Establish a safe canopy level and prune any branches that droop or develop beneath that level.
Cut away any dead or diseased branches to prevent the spread of disease and to promote good health on all branches.
You can also prune the ends of branches if you prefer a certain shape for the canopy. Start pruning the tree as soon as it starts to grow large enough to grow excessive branches; this tends to start two or three years after planting. This type of pruning will allow for better training as the tree grows larger.
Do not prune the tree until it starts to grow excessive branches or a second trunk. The tree needs heavy foliage in the first few years of its life to protect the trunk from sunburn.