Using Bonsai techniques to prune and shape overgrown shrubs and trees in the landscape.
I have always thought that a good landscape design should provide pleasing views from the inside out as well as just from the outside. A good landscape garden is a four dimensional “sculpture” that has height, depth, and width, but also has the elements of being viewed from inside. Another dimension has to do with the changing of the landscape sculpture with time.
I have been studying two arborvitaes at the house on the mountain. They were cute little things when someone planted them there but over the years they had grown and were now blocking not only the pathway, but also the inside view of the garden from the window. I cut the tops out of the trees last year and continued studying. The arborvitaes were also inhibiting the growth and development of the Otto Luyken laurels at the base of the planting. Our choice was to either take out the trees or find another way to solve the problem. I chose “tree forming” Here are a couple of pictures of the initial problem: (I’ll start by showing the “before pics and finish the article with the “after” ones)
From the outside, one can see that the arborvitaes were taking over the walkway and the laurels. I next took the following pictures of the view from the inside:
The trees, including a large crape myrtle on the other side of the walkway were blocking the view of the distant mountain, and the arborvitae was blocking the side view of the flower beds.
We started by cutting the lower limbs from the overgrown shrub, working our way up. One should proceed slowly with this because it is always possible to cut more limbs but not to put them back on.
The best way to get a good job in tree forming is to cut a little and then stand back and study the situation.
The plant now looks more like a tree. It no longer shades out the laurels and the view of the walkway. In a few months, we will trim the top to start the process of shaping it while it grows. I can envision it providing a canopy over the laurels and part of the walkway. If we keep the top cut, it will bush out and do just as the picture in my head dictates. We did the same to the arborvitae on the other side of the window.
We did some major surgery on a crape myrtle on the other side of the walk way that was also blocking the view and then we studied an overgrown yaupon tree further down the walkway.
When we finished shaping the yaupon tree, it looked like this:
The pruning had opened up the view of the walkway and made it much more open and pleasant.
It was now time to check out the “new view” from the inside of the house. Notice how we opened up the mountain vista from the big front window
And we can now see through the arborvitae to enjoy the flower beds on the walkway.
Keep in mind that you can use this tree form pruning process on all sorts of trees and bushes. It really adds elegance to your landscape garden.
If you would like to have a landscaping consultation with John Schulz in the north Georgia area, you may send an email to, firstname.lastname@example.org
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