Renovating an overgrown landscape-part one of a series

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.

 

 

Unwanted material in front of an untouched "jungle"

Unwanted material in front of an untouched “jungle”

 

 

 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:

 

 

overgrown planting hiding the house

overgrown planting hiding the house

 

 

I would be dealing with a 15 foot overgrown holly

 

 

overgrown planting hiding the house

overgrown planting hiding the house

 

 

 

And dealing with two groups of overgrown sasanquas

 

 

overgrown sasanquas need a definitive shape for effect

overgrown sasanquas need a definitive shape for effect

 

 

 

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.

 

 

begin the tree forming process by cutting lower limbs

begin the tree forming process by cutting lower limbs

 

 

 

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.

 

 

While pruning, stand back and examine the progress every now and then

While pruning, stand back and examine the progress every now and then

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Cut off any of the larger trunks that don't look right.

Cut off any of the larger trunks that don’t look right.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Trim the top of the tree to a manageable height

Trim the top of the tree to a manageable height

 

 

 

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 finished "tree form holly"

The finished “tree form holly”

 

 

 

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.

 

Turn overgrown sasanquas into tree forms

Turn overgrown sasanquas into tree forms

 

 

 I hope you enjoyed the show.  Try the “tree forming” technique on your own overgrown shrubbery—I call it “bonsai on steroids.”

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You may wish to see a previous article which explains the dynamics of plant pruning:

Pruning as an art form-the basics of 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,

Please contact me by email

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?

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: How to begin Landscaping in Tucson | Landscape Design Online
  2. Jane Schulz
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 16:11:57

    My mama always said you spend 5 years putting in and 5 years taking out. The taking out is the hard part but you make it sound like fun!

    Reply

  3. Trackback: johntheplantman's stories, plants, and gardening
  4. Trackback: Tree forming-Landscaping from the inside out. « johntheplantman's stories, plants, and gardening

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