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.




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