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Lifting the crowns of trees and shrubs allows for underplanting

Crown lifting is valuable pruning technique anyone can try.  It simply involves removing the lower branches of a tree or shrub to raise the height of the canopy. There are a number of reasons for doing this but chiefly, it allows you to underplant the tree or shrub, as you are letting in a lot more light.

It can be tried on a wide range of trees and shrubs, particularly those with a dense, twiggy, spreading habit and is particularly suited to evergreens.

Bamboos can also be thinned out by removing unwanted canes and dense tufts of leaves to expose coloured stems and give a lighter, airier appearance.

Prune trees and shrubs just before they come into growth, in early spring, or before they go dormant in late summer. Avoid cutting during prolonged cold, frosty conditions in winter.

Always start from the bottom and work up. To build confidence, remove dead or dying shoots first, then weak or congested ones, before removing anything larger.

Use secateurs for cuts up to 3/4in thick, loppers for 1½ in and a pruning saw for larger cuts. The idea is to remove branches on the main trunk up to the desired height. Do not leave unsightly stubs, as they could also become infected by disease and die back.

PLANTS SUITABLE FOR CROWN LIFTING

Acer palmatum and Acer japonica
Bamboos, such as Phyllostachys
Conifers, such as Chamaecyparis, Juniper, Pine and Yew
Cotoneaster
Euonymus japonica
Ligustrum (Privet)
Pittosporum tenuifolium
Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry laurel)
Rhododendron and azalea