Garden Design - 'Lifting' a Tree's Canopy

Poets Walk, Central Park , NY

Removing the lower limbs of a tree is known as 'lifting' its canopy. Jefferson extolled the virtues of 'lifting a canopy' when he wrote:

'Let your ground be covered with trees of the loftiest stature. Trim up their bodies as high as the constitution & form of the tree will bear, so as that their tops shall still unite and yield dense shade. A wood, so open below, will nearly have the appearance of open grounds…"   Thomas Jefferson

Removing lower limbs allows air and light into a space without forsaking the tree.  The shade cast by a tree with a high canopy is more like 'filtered' light, making the area more hospitable to 'understory' plants.  This is a time honored practice. 

The NY Botanical Garden has Tulip trees that have been 'lifted' to great effect. See below:

Bryant Park, NYC, too, has its Plane Trees lifted as well.




  1. Great article, I agree that it can make a great difference to appearances.

  2. I saw this is really great post today, so I’ve linked to my site and bookmarking it to digg, Delicious and stumble upon, Keep this trackback approved so they can index this page.

  3. Any thoughts on salt tolerant trees for water front lawn?? Want the shade, but not obstructed views.

    1. where do you live? I planted a lot of trees on the shore of Hudson River in Zone 6. why not use a shade feature like umbrella, shade x or similar

    2. It's a 300 x50 foot lawn between saltwater canal and condo.. umbrella is quick, but space is too large. Need a larger tree from nursery that's already trained to some degree?

  4. look for trained trees with high canopies at local nursery...they can show you some


Post a Comment

Hi there! I would love to hear from you....

Popular Posts of all Time

Angelface Blue and Dark Violet Angelonia - a Flower that Keeps Giving

'Purple Smoke' - The best Baptisia

Planting Design for Dry Gardens by Olivier Filippi

No-Fail Tips for Turning Hydrangeas Blue!

Repurposed and Recycled - Creative Ideas for Garden Design

The Magnificent Purslane - Edible Landscaping at its best!

My one day Class Wednesday April 16 in NY - Jan Johnsen

The Tradition of Hanami - Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan