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Pruning fruit trees and bushes

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I forgot to ask about pruning the bushes for aesthetics. Is that allowed? There are a couple of fruit trees too, I assume we should leave those alone altogether? Also, not to eat the fruit?


Shoshan Raiz

For fruit, their shemitah status is determined based on the time they begin to develop. This is called chanatah.

I'm assuming that your lemons began developing were on the tree (albeit green) from before Rosh Hashanah. Any lemons that are now ready or from that batch are actually considered sixth-year lemons, and the laws of shemitah do not apply to them. They are subject to terumot and ma'aserot (terumot and ma'aser ani). Your first shemitah lemons will be ripe around early May. When they are, you may pick a small amount for family consumption for the week, and hang a sign outside your home that states that the lemons are hefker, ownerless, and free for the taking (if you don't feel comfortable with people coming into your backyard, you can also pick some lemons and leave them in a basket outside your front door and write hefker). The lemons are exempt from terumot and ma'aserot, and the laws of shemitah sanctity apply to them (regular use, leftovers in the shemitah bin, don't directly cause it to spoil, among others).

For more on the laws of shemitah sanctity:


You may water your fruit trees sufficiently to keep them alive. This is generally 10% less than usual watering. Since trees are different, I suggest consulting with your local gardener.

Pruning is a problem, but if it is to remove diseased areas, this is ok since it is to save the tree. Also, if it is to keep it neat (if hanging over a neighbor's property, or just to keep it tidy), it may be pruned non-professionally and with a shinuy (using a different tool, not trimming too close to the trunk).


Olive trees:

Your olives will only have shemitah sanctity and all the laws that go with it around the end of August. They can be pickled or otherwise processed in a conventional way, and the same laws of hefker apply. There are special laws of bi'ur (removing produce from the home) that apply to produce when it's no longer growing on the trees (you have time until then 🙂).


I took these dates from our shemitah calendars, available here: