The Art of Tree Shaping

There are some folks who just aren’t satisfied with run-of-the-mill trees in their yards. That’s where “tree shaping” comes in. Tree shaping is the practice of training living trees to grow in artistic shapes by carefully orchestrating how the tree and the branches grow. That involves grafting, bending, framing, weaving, twisting and braiding the unnatural shapes. Similar to topiary, the trees take on artistic designs instead of just being functional structures. There are a few different methods that can be used. Aeroponics — the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium — is one of them. This technique may be used in part to help form large permanent structures. Instant tree shaping involves bending and weaving 6-9-foot trees into different designs and holding them until they’re cast. Finally, there’s gradual tree shaping, which begins with designing and framing young seedlings that are 3-12 inches long. Their growth is guided along predetermined design pathways and requires day-to-day guiding. To achieve a finished piece takes longer this way than with other methods. A chair design, for example, might take 8-10 years to reach maturity. Here are photos of a few of the amazing things that have been done in the area of tree shaping: