Legging Up Trees
Many of us are gardening in smaller places. Because space can be such a premium, you may not think you can grow trees along with your shrubs and flowers. But you can if you prune properly.
You see, most of us think of pruning as starting at the top and cutting down or pruning on the sides. But with this concept, called legging up, you remove all of the limbs from the main branches which makes a large canopy at the top and allows the sun to come in on your shrubs and perennials. Now, you can do this with just about any sort of tree. Let's take a look at a holly.
The first step is to clear out enough limbs and stems to give you a clearer view of what you're working on. Now it's important to locate several of the strongest trunks. Once you've identified the main trunks you want to preserve as I have with this flowering crabapple, that's half the battle. You're ready to take out the rest.
Since the leaves of hollies can be sharp and pointed, gloves are essential. You want to start from the bottom and work your way up and always remove any dead wood. A sharp pruning saw can be handy for this. Make your cuts close to the trunk so the wounds will heal faster. And over time, the potential of this tree form holly will be limitless.
As you can see, I keep this tree pruned at about head height because this is a path I often use. Now, if you're frustrated because you don't feel like you can have a tree and shrubs and flowers, you might try pruning rather than doing without a beautiful ornamental tree or removing one.
From the garden, I'm Allen Smith.
P. Allen Smith Gardens
© 1997 Hortus, Ltd