I have a gingko tree that was damaged when it was about 5 feet tall. The top part of the trunk was broken off. Since then the tree has not gained any height but it has continued to grow longer and longer branches. At this point the tree is 5 ft tall and has side branches that total about 10 feet in width. The tree is in the middle of my back yard which is only 16 feet wide and gets lots of sun. A short very wide tree doesn’t work in the space. Is there anything that I can do to make this tree into a good garden specimen?
It sounds as if the central leader branch was broken off your gingko tree and that would cause the tree to spread sideways rather than straight up. In turn this has destroyed the natural shape of your tree. In your case the width of your tree is spreading but not the height.
Experts suggest that if the central leader is broken, damaged or very weak, or has a dead terminal bud, choose a vigorous lateral branch to replace it. If the best-located lateral branch is growing at an oblique angle, cut back the damaged leader as close to this branch as possible. Place a stake in the ground to support the lateral branch. You will be able to remove the stake after two or three years. If the tree has an almost vertical lateral branch, cut back the damaged leader just above that branch, which will straighten up and eventually take over from the original leader. Unfortunately, it may be too late to take this action, meaning the damage is irreversible. Your only recourse would be to prune the existing branches that’s if you really care about keeping the tree to a size that is appropriate for your garden.
Right now the best course of action would be to contact a certified arborist who will evaluate your tree and provide appropriate suggestions. For a list of tree care/arborists look under the heading “Looking for a company” at Landscape Ontario. Website: www.landscapeontario.com