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Does pruning a big tree =smaller roots

Afternoon all,

if you had a large species of tree, but kept pruning it to keep it smallish, would that make the roots not spread out so much? Ie does the head size determine the root size as such? Thankyou v much


  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,555
    edited October 2020
    It’s hard to say. It might make matters worse. Especially if it’s grafted or naturally prone to throwing up suckers.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,278
    It depends on the tree, I think. The opposite relationship works (small roots => small tree, like bonsais). The other way around, not necessarily. I think it would work for slowly growing trees and shrubs usually kept pruned small or as hedges. Less green growth certainly means less photosynthesis and less energy for the tree to grow roots. There's also a smaller need to grow deep roots because the current root system can support the canopy. But there could be exceptions - trees and shrub that are actually stimulated by being cut back hard.
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,290
    I once saw an article depicting a mature tree, both above and below ground, showing that the canopy and root ends were reflecting each other, the principle being that rain gradually makes its way down the foliage to the outsides and falls to where the root ends can gather it up.  There's a certain logic to that, but I've no idea as to the truth of it.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,267
    My question would be - why do you want to know @Theresa May Not;)
    Are you wanting a tree that gets large, but you'd like to contain it because you don't have space for it at full height?
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • I am left wondering if you have a large tree with a small root system would the tree be more liable to fall over in windy conditions such as we have started experiencing?
    I think restricting the root growth would certainly affect the size of the tree, however, plants do not enjoy being controled so would it shorten the life of the tree.
    Bonsai are grown under very specialised conditions. The tops as well as the roots are pruned and they are fed and housed under special conditions which do not strees them.
  • Well, what a fab lot of answers.
    so my question arises from two things.
    i went to a ‘mature tree’ nursery and some were in relatively small containers given their height and width. Actually lots had fallen over that said.
    Also put a pic of a fab small tree on here (i will look up the name again in a mo, and the identifier said it was naturally a big tree and had been pruned. 
    I really like it but dont want to ruin foundations and unfortunately the space i have is near foundations, So i wondered if i kept it smallish whether it would behave.

    also heres another thing. Standards. Are they all grafted on top of a stem? And therefore will the trunk ever get longer?

    i love this forum. It cheers me up no end.
  • Update the tree i was referring to was a cedrus deodars, and the gardener who id’d it said pruning would make it grow as normal unless cultivated as a bonsai in a pot .

  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,555
    My neighbour has a deodar cedar right on our boundary.

    It’s at least 60 feet tall and an absolute menace.

    It constantly showers our garden with its old needles and is prone to losing large branches on a whim, one of which smashed into my greenhouse roof three winters ago.

    I wouldn’t have one in a gift, not even a bonsai.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 82,745
    edited October 2020
    Ma planted a Cedrus deodara ‘aurea’ on the edge of a rockery the year @WonkyWomble was born ... it was a beautiful and elegant small tree for about ten years ... it then grew and grew and grew ... taller than the house and then taller than any other trees in the neighbourhood ... the lower branches spread and spread and nearly filled that end of what was a decent sized garden and nothing drew beneath it ... even the Vinca major threw in the towel. 

    A great tree for parkland or an arboretum ... not for a garden. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,267
    I'd agree. You need to work very hard to keep those under control.
    Or you need a large garden. A very large one.  :)

    There are easier choices for a smaller space which will give a lot of pleasure, without the problems.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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