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A chestnut tree does not need to be pruned. However, those who want to keep it small and shape it should consider the needs of the species when cutting. We have compiled the most important facts for you.

In a nutshell

  • Chestnuts are divided into sweet chestnuts with edible fruits and horse chestnuts with inedible fruits
  • Tree pruning not absolutely necessary
  • Training cut recommended to develop a beautiful shape
  • Note the risk of fungal diseases when cutting
  • only use clean, sharp tools

sweet chestnuts and horse chestnuts

Chestnuts (Castanea) are a genus in the beech family (Fagaceae). In addition to the sweet chestnuts (C. sativa) native to Europe and known as sweet chestnuts or chestnuts, the genus includes eleven other chestnut species.

Although the prickly fruits are similar, horse chestnuts (Aesculus) are not chestnuts. Horse chestnuts belong to the soap tree family (Sapindaceae).

Sweet chestnut fruit

Notice: While chestnuts, the fruit of the sweet chestnut, are considered a culinary specialty, the fruit of the horse chestnut is inedible. Instead, they're great for making cute characters.

Chestnut as a garden tree

If you have a lot of space on the property, you can consider planting a chestnut tree. Mature trees reach a height of more than thirty meters. Many nurseries offer new varieties that are very decorative but remain small.

pruning chestnut tree?

Experts do not agree on the necessity of pruning chestnuts. While some advise against pruning, others recommend regular pruning to stimulate growth and shape the tree as desired.

Notice: Cuts on chestnuts only close slowly and thus serve longer as entry points for diseases and pests. Nevertheless, if you pay attention to the sensitivity of the chestnut and take good care of the wounds, you can strengthen the tree's resilience with a professional cut.

time for the cut

  • Pruning at the right time helps minimize risk of diseases/pests
  • best time for pruning chestnuts: between November and the end of February
  • last cut at the end of March at the latest
  • Outside temperatures below four degrees Celsius significantly reduce the risk of cuts
Aesculus hippocastanum 'Monstrosa' is one of the small ornamental forms of the horse chestnut.

Notice: Young chestnut trees in particular can be strengthened by pruning before the start of spring.


Which tool is required for the tree trimming depends on the thickness of the branches.

  • Branch diameter up to two centimeters: secateurs
  • up to five centimetres: pruning shears for two-handed operation
  • over five centimeters: pruning saw

Attention: The cutting tools must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with alcohol before use. Only use sharp cutting tools to minimize the risk of injury.

Different cut shapes - instructions

education cut

In the first few years, chestnut trees benefit from pruning. The aim of this is to develop a strong trunk.


  1. Clean and disinfect tools.
  2. Select a thick shoot to later develop the trunk from it.
  3. Cut off all other shoots perpendicularly at the origin.

Thin out

Young shoots on sweet chestnuts

Thinning out allows new shoots to form and encourages nice branching.


  1. Clean and disinfect cutting tools.
  2. Cut out dead and dried branches with scissors.
  3. Remove water shoots directly at the source, preferably tearing them out with a strong tug.

Notice: The shoots that go steeply upwards are called water shoots. They mainly form on fruit trees, but occasionally also appear on sweet chestnuts.

topiary/crown pruning

A chestnut tree with a shapely crown becomes an eye-catcher on the property.


  1. Clean and disinfect cutting tools.
  2. Remove dead and diseased branches at the source.
  3. Prune the crown all around, shortening the branches that have become too long.

Tip: Chestnut trees quickly reach a considerable height. Use a ladder and pruning shears with extendable telescopic arms for the shape cut.

care of the cut wounds

Wound closure agents are available in specialist shops. The guideline used to be that all cuts with a diameter of at least four centimeters had to be closed with a wound protection product as a matter of urgency. Today, the natural resilience of the trees is more important. We recommend cleaning the cut edges and only applying a wound sealant to them.

Notice: Extensive wounds on the chestnut tree heal well if they are wrapped in black foil to protect them.

frequently asked Questions

At what age should you prune a chestnut tree?

The topiary is recommended especially for young trees up to the age of five years. An annual pruning helps to keep the trees healthy at any age.

Are there chestnut varieties that stay small?

If you don't want to do without a chestnut in the garden but only have limited space, you should rely on the varieties 'Monstrosa' or 'Digitata'. A very decorative small chestnut variety is also the 'Laciniata'. It impresses with hanging branches and is only two to three meters high.

Which sweet chestnuts are suitable for the garden?

The French chestnut 'Marigoule' is perfect for the garden. It grows between six and ten meters high. Their fruits are ripe early. Anyone who plants this variety will be amazed by the beautiful flowers and the bounty of the harvest!

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