Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

Turn Your Tubby Shrubbery into a Tree!

Do you have an overgrown bush that has taken over its space, the space next to it, and now the sidewalk? Are you thinking about removing it because you are tired of cutting it back to no avail? Well I may have a better solution. Perhaps it is time to turn that beast of a shrub into a beauty of a tree that really makes a statement in the landscape.

An over grown bush can be more than just an eyesore.

An over grown bush can be more than just an eyesore.

When you are making your plant selections it is always important to be sure of the mature size to avoid costly mistakes. However, if you inherit a problem plant or have planted one that will not behave and has become unruly, why not turn into a specimen tree…

If you have a bush that is crowded and out of control, you can "tree it up"

If you have a bush that is crowded and out of control, you can    “tree it up”

From blobby to upright!

Tree it up!

Tree it up!

Turning a shrub into a tree is a lot easier than you think. You simply begin by choosing an odd number of stems at the trunk of the plant that each reach out in a separate direction. So in other words, do not make the mistake of choosing 3 branches on the same side ending up with a lop-sided tree. You can honestly choose any number of bottom branches of your trunk from one main trunk stem, to up to 7 if you are trying something really funky like this topiary Privet below.

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Before…

After…

Choosing multiple trunk stems allows for a larger canopy, or in this case...some funky shapes.

Choosing multiple trunk stems allows for a larger canopy, or in this case…some funky shapes.

Just about any large shrub can be turned into a beautiful specimen tree. One of my favorite plants in the landscape is the Fireman’s Cap Coral Bean but its huge girth can be a challenge in the landscape if you have not allowed enough space for it to spread. Much like the Privet above, it will continue to shoot out delicate foliage that is easily trimmed (or plucked) off as it makes a comeback so be sure to keep up with them so it does not become woody and more difficult later. (Same rule applies to Crepe Myrtles) Be sure when making your original cuts that the branches you are leaving behind are facing outward in several directions and that you are clearing out the middle. Also be sure to stand back and take a look at what is left behind before you make your next cut and move on…You cannot glue the branches back on :/

This Coral Bean is a great example of a single trunk shrub that can be trimmed into a multi-trunk specimen tree.

This Coral Bean is a great example of a single trunk shrub that can be trimmed into a multi-trunk specimen tree.

IMG_3443

These are the few tools you will need to trim your shrubs into trees. I also recommend some good gloves.

When making your cuts at the base of your shrub be sure to have a small collection of hand tools and loppers. You will need some good garden scissors, a pair of short handled (to maneuver between the branches more easily) bypass tree loppers for the large branches and a pair of good gloves for the pokey plants like the Coral Bean. Be sure to cut close to the trunk and stems not leaving those crazy little nubs people leave behind. Not only because they look crazy, but because they drain nutrients from the plant and make it difficult for the trunk and branches to heal. You also want to choose a height that all the stems will be removed. For example, it your bush is 6′ tall choose the 3 or 5 main vertical stems that will now be your trunk and strip them bare of all the horizontal and upright stems smaller stems from maybe 3′ from the ground. Now you see the shape of your canopy and you can make your cuts accordingly. Do not be discouraged if your canopy is bald in places. It will fill in quickly.

Pineapple Guava is a great example of a huge bush that looks awesome as a tree. With its beautiful bark, interesting foliage, exquisite flowers and fruit, this is a really special tree in the landscape.

Pineapple Guava is a great example of a huge bush that looks awesome as a tree. With its beautiful bark, interesting foliage, exquisite flowers and fruit, this is a really special tree in the landscape.

Here is a video I shot of this Pineapple Guava with a before and after…

Now go get your garden on!

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on facebook)

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

Check out my other videos on YouTube!

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