Large trees are definitely majestic, but, if your garden is on the small side, oversized trees can quickly become a nuisance. The best way to keep things under control is by picking tree species with a final mature size that suits the space that you can offer. Of course, if your trees are already in the ground and are threatening to dominate your garden, here’s what you need to do to keep them at a manageable size.
Cut the Growing Tip of Fruit Trees
If a fruit tree is what you’re dealing with, then your very first step would be to cut off its growing tip. This is the central branch that gives a tree its height. Make your cut just above a bud – your tree will then start to branch outwards, rather than upwards, from where you’ve cut it. This also keeps the fruit at a reachable height, making harvesting easier.
Winter is the best time of year to do this, as the cold prevents disease formation. Don’t remove more than two thirds of the central stem in one pruning session – if your tree is particularly tall, you’ll need to cut it back over a few years.
Don’t Rush Things with Mature Trees
If the garden trees you have in mind are already mature and tall, then you’ll need to take things slowly. Cutting back too much too quickly will result in your tree struggling to produce enough energy to recover from your pruning session.
Professionals recommend pruning mature trees over a three year period. For example, if you’re looking to take three feet off the top of a tree, cut it back by one foot each year.
Whether you’ve got a Dragon Tree, a Yucca Rostrata, or any other evergreen species, the rules are a little different. If you simply cut the central branch in an attempt to restrict growth, the tree will only end up producing more upward-growing limbs. The only difference is that these will be much weaker, giving you a more dangerous tree in the long run.
Instead, your best bet would be enlisting the help of a professional to teach you how to correctly manage your trees. If a low-maintenance garden is what you’re after, then it may be simpler to have your evergreen trees cut down to large shrubs.
Make the Most of Pots
One clever way to keep your garden trees at a manageable size is to grow them in pots. Since a pot restricts root growth, trees don’t grow quite as quickly, or quite so large. A pot also gives you the added advantage of being able to move your trees around your garden as and when needed. Go for a lightweight material, such as a large GRC pot, to really make the most of this versatility.
Large trees are impressive, but they’re not suitable for every space. Rather than avoiding trees in your garden altogether, learning how to keep them at a manageable size will allow you to enjoy all of the benefits that trees bring, without the risk of having to remove them in the future.