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enter image description hereMy question is a bit different because I'm leaving the oak tree in the ground where it started growing about 5 or so years ago. I've been trying to keep it cut back each year to try to make it into an interesting looking bonsai-ish tree. I'd like to add a picture for you to see so that you can help me. I don't know how to go about cutting it back. I think I've been doing it wrong and would like to know if I can salvage it.

The oak tree is to the right of the red flowers on top of the large spiky leaves. To the right of the oak tree is a taller butterfly bush. The butterfly bush will be cut down if I can get the oak tree to look nice. If anyone can help with shaping it I would appreciate the help. If you need more pics please let me know.

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    To add a picture, click edit. Then under that is a little tool above your editing box. It looks like a mountain with a sun. Click that. Go to the location of your picture on your computer. Drag the image into the box. – El Bromista Sep 1 '16 at 15:34
  • Is that the oak in the middle or are you just showing off how beautiful your garden is? :) – El Bromista Sep 1 '16 at 19:48
  • I added a comment. Didn't it show up? I added a whole desc of where it was. Where could it have gone. Yes, it's to the right of the red flowers on the spiky leaves. Since this is my first entry I need some help. – 224windsor Sep 1 '16 at 22:57
  • Welcome! Yay for learning how to post a picture of that beautiful garden! I see you've already been helping people, so thank you for that. The best thing to do right now is use the edit again, go back into your question and re-type the description. It's not your fault, things have a way of disappearing around here sometimes! Also, if a comment asks for more information, editing into the question as much as possible will keep it all in the same place. I don't mean you shouldn't use the comments, though, and definitely use them when looking for help! That's what we're here for! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Sep 2 '16 at 0:18
  • I took my clippers and decided to "have at it". You can consider this question closed. I don't know if there is a formal way to close it. – 224windsor Sep 4 '16 at 11:08
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Step one (the hard one): to stay small, you will need to perform yearly root pruning. This is far easier in a pot (you will notice that's where people keep Bonsai trees). A confined root space could help (it may be possible to dig down and install a barrier). In unlimited root space, the tree will have full leaf siz, and keep pushing to the full potential size, with long stems.

You want slow growth. For shaping, pick a style and stay with it. A rule of thumb is to thin the front (to show off the branching structure), and leave more foliage in the back (as a backdrop, you don't want the tree to look scarce).

Get a book. This is an art, so it takes experience, but you need to start with a solid knowledge base on tips, techniques, and the health requirements of plants.

I think this may be a lot more work than you anticipated, but it's not impossible. Very time consuming project. If you do decide to roll with it, be sure to jump on problems as soon as they arise (You know where to ask about that!).

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