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Enhance garden views from above by pruning trees and shrubs

from: Nicole Martins

For a homeowner who doesn't necessarily spend much time in their garden but wants to enjoy it from above, taking into account the garden views from upstairs windows and/or decks will help in dictating the planting plan.

In San Francisco, where garden space is typically 30' X 30', people look to maximize the design effects: creating outdoor rooms with patios, paths, fountains and arbors. The same is true with a garden that is mainly viewed from an upstairs deck or window. One example is a garden that we have been maintaining and restoring for over a year. The objective is that homeowner be able to see as much of the garden as possible from the 2nd and 3rd story decks.

An existing 35' Podocarpus tree adjacent to the deck requires annual pruning and is due to be thinned and reduced on our next visit in October. While we typically schedule an arborists to prune trees larger than 25', deck access from the homeowner and neighbor's property make it possible for us to safely work on the tree.

Once the Podocarpus has been pruned the garden will require only minimal adjustments for the next 8 to 10 months. In the past year, we have pruned several Plum trees along the fence line and through out. At this point, they are in far better aesthetic shape: having opened up the garden as well as enhanced views.
Tip pruning the canopy and select branches of Angel's Trumpet: Datura, is also necessary throughout spring and summer for maintaining the deck views of the rear planting areas. Although this tree is frost tender in many climates, we are fortunate that it thrives in the Bay Area, and that there are several nice varieties to choose from.

Badly formed plants such as the leggy growing, purple flowering Princess Tree: Tibouchina, are also candidates for a severe heading back. While this pruning technique leaves the tree looking hacked and butchered for several months afterwards, on a healthy specimen, dormant buds will grow from the woody stumps creating a new floriferous head.

As with all gardens, the seasons bring about changes, creating new expressions. With fall upon us, our job for view enhancement is nearly complete, once the Podocarpus tree is pruned. After that, we will have many months to concentrate on the under story and plantings.
About the Author

Nicole Martins is a contributing author and publisher to, an online resource that provides you with information, articles of interest and reviews of the best selling outdoor furniture and patio accessories online.



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