Any tree can be kept small. The tricolor beech behind Janet was the size we wanted it to be 16 years old before this photo was taken. It's still that size because we can do it every two years in August. We use techniques that have worked well for at least a thousand years for gardeners in tight places.
All pruning has a dwarf effect on trees. There are ways to prune a tree when it is young so that it becomes a tree of manageable size. This is especially important with fruit trees, so you can harvest the fruit without a ladder. Pruning young trees to control their height is better than trying to lower the height of a mature tree.
Managing Tree Height Properly While the most obvious option to prevent trees from overgrowing is to plant them in the right place, that's not always possible. Previous owners may have planted a tree in a place too close to the house or in a less than ideal place, so that when it grows too much, it can become a nuisance. Tree pruning is an option to keep trees at an ideal height for your home. Mature trees can be pruned so that the length of the branches is shorter, but it is ideal to start the tree pruning process when the trees are young trees, since older trees require much more energy to support a major tree pruning process.
After the first buds begin to break in early spring, examine the spacing of the branches and decide if you like the arrangement of the upper buds. If not, simply prune lower to a place where the leaf bud configuration suits you. This place will eventually become the crotch of the tree. The lower the crotch, the easier it is to keep the tree small.
The earlier in the season you make this cut, the more vigorously the new limbs will grow. The first winter the tree is inactive, three or four branches are chosen to become the main branches of the scaffold. Preserve the branches that grow on the sides even if they are small, since these side branches plus the shoots that grow on the buds of the main branches will form the new shorter tree. Trimming branches during the dormant season of late winter keeps a tree with a smaller shape; however, pruning in midsummer removes the portion of the branches that produce food, which slows growth more easily.
For an expert and expert tree service in Austin, Texas, who can assist in this process, contact Tommy's Tree Service. While this cut may seem extreme, your planting work will only be complete when you have cut the top two-thirds of your new tree. Trees planted in the spring are cut 2 to 3 feet above the ground and the side branches are pruned into two buds. One way to limit the height of a tree is to shape it like a tulip, controlling the vertical growth of the trunk.
Revisit the tree once more in early spring, just as the buds reach 1 or 2 inches long before wood branches begin to form. Once the tree is a few years old, shape it gradually over several years to maximize foliage and flowering. Use cuts at the top to encourage dense growth and thinner cuts made close to the trunk to maintain the shape of the tree. A knee-high plum is reasonable for almost all fruit trees for small gardens, but peaches and nectarines will sprout more reliably if cut just above a nurse branch (a branch left to absorb spring energy from the tree and encourage germination).
However, if you want to turn your tree into a shrub, placing the top of the tree when it is small, trimming other branches backwards, and allowing several branches to grow from the cut ends, it creates a shrub-like appearance. Never cut the leader of the plant, the highest point of growth of the tree, which is vital for the tree to develop its natural shape. This pruning cut is critical because it will create a low scaffold (the main branches that form the canopy of a tree), and making this cut during dormancy will give the tree strength and endurance, which is especially crucial for heavy stone fruits. The resulting open-center tree will be shorter, stronger, easier to care for and much more useful and fruitful.