Training has not been around for very long, nevertheless, it is widely used today. By tying branches or propping them up from the ground, you can guide the growth of a tree to take any shape. This structural alteration of the tree is known as “Tree Training” and is a much better way to create an alternate form for your tree.


Training vs Pruning

Many people often get pruning and training mixed up, however, they are different. Pruning is used to prevent diseases, encourage healthier fruit growth, and prevent lopsidedness. While training does involve pruning, it describes the process of changing the structure of your tree to fit a distinctive style or shape.

While pruning is useful from time to time, you can use training as a healthier and more efficient alternative. Additionally, If you direct the tree and get it started off on the right foot, you will save yourself a lot of pruning time later.

When to choose pruning instead of training

If you have an abundance of branches on one side, you can use pruning to maintain the right shape of the tree. For example, you would need to get rid of the larger segments of a tree that is weighing it down to one side. Think about pruning more in terms of maintaining, rather than altering.

Which form of training should be used?

It can be hard to decide how exactly to train your tree. There are many different forms and shapes from which to choose. Some are meant to provide maximum fruit bearing per tree, while some are meant to allow a high density of trees in one orchard.

Depending on how you want your tree to function and where it is, you will have to look for distinct types of forms that will perfectly fit your situation.

Two common scenarios where you would apply training are:

1. Redirecting branches growing in the wrong direction

Rather than simply cutting off all the branches that are not going in the wrong way, you can try to redirect them. The mechanisms you use can be thought of as orthodontic braces for your fruit tree. They pull or push the branches, like teeth, in whatever direction you want them to go. Eventually, they grow that way due to your training.

2. Redirect branches that are too close or touching

Training theories can also be applied even if you are growing a tree in the traditional (natural) form. Sometimes branches will grow too close and block each other, so training them to grow away can prevent the need to prune them later.

This is highly beneficial, even if you are just growing a tree in a non-professional environment. For example, your backyard.

How to train

  • As a rule, training takes place in summer and is usually used in the early days of the tree’s lifecycle to encourage its full development.
  • To train a tree, you will need some outside brace to push or pull a branch. Alternatively, if you want to push two branches closer together or further apart, you can place something in between them or whip them with rope.
  • Successfully training your branches just takes a little imagination in deciding where to tie things to and what to push things off. Any solid structure such as stakes, fences, or simply an upright 2×4 (lumber) leaning away can work wonders.


There is no tree grower that could not benefit from using a little training in their tree growing escapades. Whether you’ve decided to just optimize branch placement for healthier fruit or give your trees a whole new form, training can benefit you.