Renovating an overgrown landscape-part one-tree forming.
Today’s article begins a series on renovating an overgrown landscape planting. I have been asked to turn an over planted and neglected landscape garden into a work of art. We started this project the first week in February, 2011, and I was kicking myself for forgetting the camera on the first day. I won’t forget it again. Anyway, here is a picture of what we took out the first day with some untouched “jungle in the background.
I really love it when I am asked to “fix” an overgrown landscape planting. There’s something about getting in there and moving, removing, and pruning the plants to make sense of a mess that turns me on. After getting a basic start the first day and becoming familiar with the scope of the job, I decided to start with the overgrown hollies and sasanquas that blocked the front of the house. The plants are healthy and I’m sure they were expensive when installed, and I didn’t want to remove them, just open them up and stop them from blocking the circular drive. I decided to “tree form” them. Here is the “before” picture:
I would be dealing with a 15 foot overgrown holly
And dealing with two groups of overgrown sasanquas
I will use the 15 foot holly to show you how we turned a large “bush” into a “tree form.” The first step is to study the plant and get a plan of approach. We will start by removing the bottom limbs from the plant and moving from the bottom to the top.
I like to stop periodically to look at the progress from a distance. This shot shows a start but also a need for a bit more work on the bottom and for trimming the lower perimeter of leaves.
I decided that a piece or two of the lower trunk grouping needed to go. This was a job for the wonderful little bitty chain saw.
The next part of the job was to get out the ladder and trim the top of the tree. I couldn’t see the person on top of the ladder. Please note that there is someone holding the ladder. This is very important on any job. You should never work from the top of a ladder without assistance.
After trimming the top and finishing up with a careful touch up with hand shears, the job is completed. This tree will grow into a delightful canopy if maintained properly. Look at how it opens up the planting area. This tree form treatment is what I call, “turning a liability into an asset.”
The sasanquas had grown out over ornamental rocks, were choking a beautiful and expensive Japanese maple, and were blocking half of the driveway. Here is a picture of the tree formed sasanquas. We will remove the leaves and apply fresh pine straw when we finish working on all of the plants in the yard.
I hope you enjoyed the show. Try the “tree forming” technique on your own overgrown shrubbery—I call it “bonsai on steroids.”
You may wish to see a previous article which explains the dynamics of plant pruning:
February is also a good time for carefully shaping your Crape Myrtles. Read about it in my article, Zen and the art of crape myrtle pruning
If you would like a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist, in your yard,
As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?