Formed trees: DIY beauty


Admiring the beautiful specimens of trees in the ornamental garden, we do not think about the fact that the exquisite silhouette is not a whim of nature, but the result of the gardener’s painstaking work.

This art is simple, but it requires patience, elementary knowledge and the ability to think figuratively from the performer.


Any the tree requires the formation of a skeleton in the first five years of growth. The basis of the skeleton is a tree trunk. It can be straight, curved, broken, branched at the base or higher.

A straight trunk is the ideal basis for a geometric crown (read on). To get a smooth and even trunk, it is necessary to remove all the lateral buds that form on it in time.

The curved trunk will emphasize the natural contours of the tree, giving it a special personality. It is good to plant such trees alone (solitary planting). It is not difficult to get a trunk bend when the tree is still very young. If a non-lignified trunk is deflected to the side and fixed for a year or two, then over time it will remain in this position, and the top will continue to grow vertically.

The broken shape of the trunk is almost a work of art. Here it is important to see how the tree will look in perspective. Formation can take many years. The trunk is first bent. After that, a young side branch is selected that grows in the right direction and all the rest are cut off, including the apical one. Thus, the selected branch becomes a conductor (vertex). It can also be bent or deflected in a given direction. The operation is repeated until the required broken line of the trunk is obtained.

Branching of the trunk at the base can be obtained if, at the age of three, the seedling is cut “on a stump”, leaving no more than 15 cm. Then the young plant will start new shoots at the very root neck. Shoots can be bent, weaved, cut at different levels — everything as your fantasy tells you.

The branching of the trunk above the base is more often used to form a lush crown, close to spherical or umbrella. There are several trimming methods and they depend on the type of tree.

Method 1. The trunk is cut down over the whorl, provoking it to develop intensively. Whorls form coniferous trees.

In this way, some styles of niwaki (read more) and spruce trees are formed.

Method 2. The trunk is cut down over the place where a strong lateral branching is seen, directed in different directions. This method is also applied to deciduous trees in order to subsequently give them a weeping shape.

Method 3. The trunk is cut down at any convenient level and cuttings are grafted to the cut. Before doing such an operation, be sure to study the vaccination methods for each specific breed.

As a rootstock (trunk), non-varietal, but winter-hardy species are usually used. And the scion (cuttings) is taken from varietal specimens of the same breed. In this way, low, highly decorative standard trees with a spherical crown (including standard roses) are formed.


Immediately after the formation of the trunk, they begin to create a beautiful crown. It can look natural or have a strict geometric shape.

The natural type of the crown looks beautiful in the array. If you plant nearby trees that grow in this region and at the same time take into account their growth rate and final height, you will end up with a spectacular park area in the nature garden style.

There are the following natural types of crowns.

From left to right: spherical, oval, sprawling, tiered, pyramidal, umbrella, columnar, weeping.

Geometric crowns a priori look artificial and deliberately demonstrate the level of skill of the gardener. And here the main thing is not to get carried away with ideal contours, but to fit them into the existing landscape as successfully as possible.


Niwaki is the art of making garden bonsai. Small trees of bizarre shapes captivate with their sophistication and expressiveness.

Trees are formed by pinching and pruning. This work is painstaking and requires patience. So, if you want to try yourself in this field, do not immediately try to create a whole garden in this style. A few trees for an enthusiastic but busy person will be more than enough.

To form fluffy brushes at the ends of the branches, they pinch the extreme bud and the pair following it. This will provoke the growth of the remaining buds on this branch. The kidneys from the trunk to the beginning of the hand are also removed. In subsequent years, they maintain the resulting shape and pinch the tips of the side branches of the brush so that it branches more strongly.

To create nivaki in our climate, rocks that lend themselves well to formation are used: boxwood, spruce, pine, linden, hornbeam and others used for hedges.

The drawings illustrating the styles were created based on the sketches of the landscape architect Tselishcheva Vasilisa.

Chokan This is a single stemmed tree. A traditional and easy option for a beginner.

A three to four year old seedling (top) is cut to the second pair of buds. Lateral branches will begin to grow on the trunk. Of these, leave those that grow almost in the same vertical plane.

Sokan — double-barreled a tree with divergent trunks of different heights. The silhouette is voluminous and asymmetrical.

Syakan — leaning tree. The trunk should be straight, but at an angle 450 to the ground. So that the top does not grow perpendicularly upwards, as nature tells it, the obliquely planted tree is duplicated with a straight pole. The trunk is fixed to it along its entire length.

Moyogi — winding tree. The trunk is formed like a sinusoid, curved in one plane.

Kengai — a fallen tree. Such bonsai is planted on a steep bank or the edge of a cliff (rock, retaining wall). An important condition is that the base of the trunk should be noticeably higher than the top of the tree.

Kyoto form was born as a production necessity. In the city of Kyoto, after cutting cryptomeria from stumps, new shoots grew. From them, new trunks were formed for the subsequent saw cut. In our latitudes, this form is created for decorative purposes and from spruce.

Kotobuki — tree-amulet. The silhouette is formed in one vertical plane in the form of the corresponding hieroglyph. The lower branch necessarily covers a large stone or stone lantern.

Moncaburi — a symbol of good luck and success.

It is specially planted next to the gate or gate and is formed in such a way that one long side branch completely covers the entrance area.

These are far from all styles of niwaki, but only the most interesting and relatively uncomplicated basic options.

Topping. This procedure is simple: the extreme kidney or the top of the young shoot is removed with the fingers.

According to the law of apical dominance, active growth of buds or shoots following the extreme ones will begin. That is, the edge of the branch forms two or more new shoots.

Pruning. With the help of pruning, the branch is removed entirely or to the desired branching. Another purpose of pruning is to encourage the branch to form laterals along its entire length. If you cut off the edge of the branch, removing the extreme bud and the pair following it, the remaining buds will grow at the same time.

Breakout. Complete removal of the branch by pruning is recommended for branches over a year old. Young shoots are best removed by breaking out: the growth is bent down and torn off with a “heel”. One of the options for the formation of a smooth trunk in a young seedling, if you did not have time to remove extra buds in the spring.

Broken. Does it surprise you how ordinary tree species in the hands of a gardener suddenly take on a weeping shape? To create it, young, but already lignified branches are simply broken at the trunk. Over time, the wound will heal, the attachment point of the branch will get stronger, and the falling shape will be preserved.

Bending. This is the second way to form a weeping crown shape. Young branches are simply strongly bent and fixed to the ground with a rope and pegs.

Bending is also used to give the branch a strictly horizontal direction. For this purpose, a straight pole splint is placed on the branch and fixed with a hemp rope.

Another beautiful type of crown created by the bending method is a tree bowed by the wind (flag crown). All branches and trunk are directed in one direction, as if a strong wind is blowing.

Graft. In this way, a new branch is engrafted to the young trunk in the right place. Most often used in working with fruit trees. In ornamental gardening, it is one of the ways to create a standard form.

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