When designing gardens with trees, it’s good to understand a tree’s habit. A tree’s habit is the arrangement of its branches.
The common habits of trees are:
- Fastigate: All of the branches ascend. These types of bushes and trees are ideal in situations where you need height but not width.
- Tortuous: The branches in these trees and bushes contort. This habit can be a focal point in a garden.
- Weeping: All of the branches droop downwards from the main stem. This habit draws the eye downward, beneath the tree. This habit also gives a restful feeling.
- Pendulous: The beginning of the branches grow upwards, but the end of the branch droop downwards. This habit also draws the eye below the tree and gives a restful feeling.
- Horizontal: The branches grow horizontally. This habit is ideal for a focal point and gives a restful feeling.
- Architectural or Sculptural: The branches are unique, with strong forms and textures. This habit can be a focal point in a garden and often provides year-round interest.
Even though a tree has a natural habit, you may still need to prune a tree. A basic guideline is to remove inward growing and crossing branches. Also remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. If you’ve chosen the right tree, in the right location, you shouldn’t have to do too much more pruning for a tree.
For more information about choosing trees for your garden, see Designing Gardens with Trees.
by Shannon Mendez