I've seen people cut off lower branches on conifers so they could put stuff under it. Is this a bad idea for a 30 foot tall tree?

Instead of hostas doing low PH food bushes under pine trees: enter image description here


Not a bad idea, unless you wanted a tree with branches close to the ground. You can do pretty much whatever you want with trees as long as you don't do anything that will cut off oxygen from getting to the roots (e.g., pave over them, raise the ground level) AND always leave so green above ground. WYSIWYwG.

  • How much does a tree need to keep the tree need to stay alive on average? How do I prevent the top of the tree from toppling over? Jun 27 '16 at 2:50
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    Branches are largely autonomous, meaning what you do to one doesn't affect the others (for the most part).Sometimes other branches will die when many are removed at once You should be able to remove 20% to 30% of the total foliage at one time without causing problems. Removing lower branches will not cause the top to topple - it will just grow from the green tips of the remaining branches and the leader; you'll have the empty space around a bare trunk below (where the branches were removed).
    – Jim Young
    Jun 27 '16 at 4:46
  • Hi Jim! Would you mind explaining WYSIWYwG? It's probably a term or acronym I should know but have never heard of! Thanks! Jun 27 '16 at 21:34
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    What You See Is What You Get. Geeky/nerdy stuff.
    – Jim Young
    Jun 27 '16 at 22:07
  • This tree is fine, and my golly what a beautiful little planting beneath. Limbing up conifers is kind of a no no with the purist arborists, this is fine the way it is! The only pruning that is critical for trees like this is thinning so that wind flows through without taking the entire tree down. I'd probably hire someone to do the thinning or make sure your home owner's insures your butt, grins!! If you don't worry about wind and that tree coming down then looks like this chunk of your work is done!! Beautiful!
    – stormy
    Jun 27 '16 at 23:22

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