How to prune a weeping cherry blossom tree

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Weeping cherry trees (Prunus pendula) are beautiful to behold during the spring. This variety of cherry tree has graceful branches that arch over and hang towards the ground.

The stunning blossoms are white or delicate pink, but the graceful limbs and shape of the tree make it an aesthetically pleasing presence in your garden anytime of the year. Growing only to a maximum height of 12 metres (40 feet), but rarely that tall, these trees do not take up much room on your lawn. They have a spread of around 4.5 to 7.5 metres (15 to 25 feet) and maintaining their shape is easy with regular pruning.

Determine whether your weeping cherry tree is grafted or natural. If it is grafted, there will be a graft knot on the tree trunk. Typically, this is just beneath the crown of the tree or approximately a 30 cm (1 foot) below the crown.

Prune your tree in early spring or late autumn. Avoid pruning while leaves or blossoms are present on your weeping cherry tree.

Trim the ends of any branches that touch the ground. Your goal should be to have limbs no closer to the ground than 15 cm (6 inches).

Remove all dead branches from your trees or any that appear to be diseased. Cut away any branches that rub against others or that are crossed over each other; this is more common in grafted trees.

Cut off any branches that are growing straight up if your weeping cherry is grafted. They will continue their upward growth and detract from the tree's beauty. If your tree is a natural weeping cherry, you can skip this step. The limbs will eventually arch over and hang toward the ground, creating the wonderful shape that gives it its name.

Check the centre of the crown on your grafted weeping cherry. Often, this type of tree grows a section of limbs where they are twisted or growing in several different directions. Trim these to keep the arching, downward shape of the tree.

Step back from the tree and look at its overall shape. Trim it at the crown if it does not have a pleasing weeping shape to it.