Trimming Avocado Tree: How To Prune Avocado Limbs, Increase Harvest

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | November 9, 2023

Man with scissors holding a potted plant wonders about trimming avocado tree varieties and how to prune avocado limbs correctly to increase avocado harvests and how to cut avocado tree branches.

Most Avocado tree care professionals will tell you that trimming Avocado tree branches isn’t always necessary. Avocados are known for requiring minimal pruning.1

Still, there are situations where disease, rot, or sub-par nourishment impact the health of a given tree. If you’re trying to find how to grow an Avocado tree that bears a lot of fruit, there’s a little advance preparation for trimming Avocado tree to consider.

In this guide, tips and tricks for managing your avocado plant will be explored. Whether you’re growing avocado indoors or outdoors, pruning can be done in a DIY way.

But, keep in mind that there are scenarios where you’ll need to seek the services of arboreal professionals. Where possible, this guide provides step-by-step advice.

Trimming Avocado Tree: The Why

If you’re unfamiliar, avocados are sometimes called “alligator pears”, and they’re technically a single-seed berry.2

They are a “fruit” rather than a “vegetable”, even though culinary uses tend to use such “berries” like veggies.

Graphic on how to prune Avocado tree, highlighting key areas like dead branches, terminal twigs, damaged branches and showcasing essential tools, with notes on best pruning practices.

To determine whether trimming Avocado tree branches is best for the fullest flourish of your plant, consider these questions:

  • How old is your Avocado tree?
  • Do you have easy tree access?
  • Does your tree get enough sun?
  • Are your tree branches balanced?
  • Is the season right to prune your tree?
  • Is there a real need to reshape the tree?

Grafted Avocado trees take 3 to 5 years to bear fruit, seedlings take 5 to 7 years.3 The oldest Avocado tree known was planted in 1879, making it 143 years old.4

An Avocado tree can last forever. However, if yours is exceptionally old, it will likely be weaker.

The trees can live over a hundred years, but they’re not eternal. If your tree is a bit older, it’s best to treat it with “kid gloves”, as the saying goes.

Most trees will be “prunable”, some may require a professional to examine them before you proceed for best results. If your tree can be pruned, next determine if this is needed.

Should access be hard or impossible, pruning keeps the tree healthy by mitigating incidental damage from working around branches that aren’t conducive for harvest.

Additionally, interior areas of the tree that aren’t as healthy as they should be may indicate a lack of sun; that’s a fine reason to prune. If your tree is out of balance, that’s another clear indicator it’s time to prune.

Since avocados are “evergreens”, you can prune them any time of year, but you shouldn’t initiate any heavy pruning after or before spring.

If serious pruning is necessary, early to mid spring is best.5 Otherwise, the best time to prune is right after harvest.

Also, professionals indicate avocado pruning should be done with a certain degree of delicateness, so try not to over or under prune.6 You’re seeking a balance.

How To Prune an Avocado Tree: Size Plays a Role

For large-scale Avocado tree management, it’s important to keep trees short. Size plays a role.

Determining how to prune Avocado trees, which are among the types of trees that can grow as tall as a five-story building or up to 60 feet in height,7 presents a challenging task.

Trimming the higher parts of a tree, such as the avocado branches, will require equipment like chainsaws and cherry pickers.

Most homeowners won’t have that sort of tree in their backyard, or desire to achieve one of such a size. Rather, they’ll have a shorter tree that’s typically less than ten feet in height if indoors, or 15 to 20 feet outdoors.8

Once you’ve determined the age of your tree, and your goals in pruning, the next steps are a bit more in-depth.

  1. Determine pruning extent to identify pruning time: “Terminal” twigs may bear fruit
  2. Get tools: Clippers, gloves, step-ladders, yard waste disposal methods, latex paint
  3. Height pruning may require more equipment: Factor in to identify needed tools
  4. Overall pruning may take years for Avocado trees: Plan an annual pruning schedule
  5. Pruning soon after harvest is a wise move for increasing yield, factor that in

“Thinning cuts” can help you control the height and shape of an Avocado tree.9 These basically involve removing whole branches strategically, either vertically or horizontally.

Such cuts also let light in, and increase airflow; both of which are conducive to Avocado tree growth. However, if they expose too much of the tree’s innards to sunlight, the tree can get “sunburnt” at which point you’ll want to paint it with diluted latex paint in the areas affected to reflect sunlight.10

Dead branches and “terminal” twigs should be removed. Doing so after harvest is best for “terminal” twigs to avoid missing any fruit.

It’s important not to get too zealous; you want to see how the work you’ve done affects the subsequent season. Take a long-term approach, expecting your Avocado tree to require years for a sort of “cruising altitude” production cycle.

Also, you can’t leave a tree alone once it’s healthy and fruitful. Fungal issues and other diseases can impact your tree, pruning can help counteract them.11

For some pruning needs, especially where fungal issues are at play, you may well want to prepare diluted white latex paint in advance, or secure professional assistance.

Goals in Trimming Avocado Tree Will Help Determine the Best Method

Trimming Avocado tree branches can increase fruit harvests, strengthen weakened trees, and improve tree health overall.

The question is, which of these goals in trimming are you trying to achieve?

A mature avocado tree, with green leaves situated near a green house and a brick wall under a clear sky, needs tree care by pruning Avocado tree foliage and branches.

(Image: JFVelasquez Floro16)

Here are some steps to consider that will help you narrow down associated pruning tactics:

  1. Determine if you want the tree for aesthetic purposes or fruit yield
  2. Determine how necessary trimming will be for overall health, pros may be needed
  3. Deduce the scope of needed trimming to determine DIY options and when to prune

How To Find the Right Arborist for Trimming Avocado Tree

If trimming Avocado tree branches is dangerous, requiring you to climb high on a ladder, use a chainsaw, or rent a “cherry picker”, you should probably find an arborist to help. For avocados, specialization is key.

Different Avocado trees have different nutritional values.12 They also have different appearances and management best practices.

It’s smart to work with arboreal specialists who understand how to handle one sort of Avocado tree over another. Find other trees that are healthy, ask associated owners what pruning methods they use, and whether those methods include professional assistance, then get the information of the arboreal pros they work with.

Read online reviews, compare the cost of arborist, and always get a second opinion. For your larger Avocado tree, it’s advisable to engage a tree trimming service.

Avocados are popular,13 delicious, and healthy.14 A tree in your yard increases property value,15 but it’s also useful for food.

Growing an orchard can be a competitive, lucrative enterprise. Whatever your situation, proper pruning, including trimming Avocado trees, facilitates more reliable yields and keeps trees healthy over the long-term.


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4Boeckmann, C. (2023, May 31). Two Easy Ways to Start Avocado Trees From Seed. Almanac. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from   <>

5Regents of the University of California. (2023). Pruning Avocados. University of California Cooperative Extension Ventura County. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from   <>

6California Avocado Commission. (2013, April 22). Avocado Tree Pruning Basics. California Avocado Commission. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from   <>

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10University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. (2016, September). Sunburn. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from   <>

11University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. (2023). Avocado. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from   <>

12Panoff, L. (2021, October 1). 15 Interesting Varieties of Avocado. healthline. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from   <>

13Matei, A. (2017). The Avocado Wars. Adrienne Matei. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from   <>

14The President and Fellows of Harvard College. (2022, April). Avocados. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from   <>

15Collins & Company Inc. (2016, July 26). Money Does Grow on Trees: Improving Property Value in a Natural Way By: Jillian Klein. Collins & Company Inc. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from   <>

16Persea americana in the Philippines Photo by JFVelasquez Floro / CC0 1.0 Deed | CC0 1.0 Universal. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from   <>