Pruning is unnecessary to encourage avocado production, but most gardeners prune to keep the tree at a manageable height for harvesting. Gather pruning shears, white latex paint, water, a paint brush and a glass jar or small bowl for this process, which takes about 30 minutes. A small amount of pruning is appropriate throughout the season, but make major cuts immediately after the fruit sets to avoid trimming new growth.
Suckers are thin, small stems that appear near the base of the tree. Cut these spindly stems off at their base.
Shoots appear on the branches, and they grow directly upward. Trim the shoots at their base to encourage the tree to grow wider rather than taller.
Prune away any dead branches and those that cross other branches. Make symmetrical cuts to avoid excess fruit production on one side of the tree. Trim the top branches so they are easy to reach, and thin out enough top and interior branches to allow sunlight to reach the tree's lower section.
Protect the cuts
Mix 1/4 cup each of white latex paint and water in a glass jar or small bowl. Use a paint brush to apply the mixture to the cut edges. This protects the pruned branches from sunburn.