Planting a Forest Pansy redbud to shade my deck

(Question)

Hello,
I live in central Toronto

I am looking for a small tree to shade my deck and patio table. Initially we planted a locust tree but the light leaves will not give us adequate shade from the sun.

All my research has led me to this tree but I worry that it will not give my the necessary clearance because my deck is already 18 inches off the ground meaning the lowest branches of the tree would have to be nearly 7 feet high.

I understand these trees have very low growing branches which contribute to the wonderful broad canopy.

Will I be removing too much of this canopy if I try to prune the lower branches too much?

(Answer)

A ‘Forest Pansy’ Eastern Redbud is a great choice for planting beside a deck.  It will provide you with lovely spring blooms and wonderful purple-tinged foliage.  As it gets older, it will take on a graceful, flat-topped, vase shape and will provide you the shade you require.

As you mentioned, this tree usually branches low on the trunk.  Pruning is essential for maintaining a strong and healthy tree, as well as ensuring a structure that meets your landscaping needs.  Pruning should be done in the late spring, just after blooming (fall pruning will reduce spring flowering); however, if you have some twigs/branches which are damaged or diseased, they can generally be pruned at any time of the year without impacting the tree too much.  The rule of thumb is that not more than 25-30% of tree’s foliage should be removed in a given year.

You are not the only person to ask about pruning a “Forest Pansy” Eastern Redbud.  Here are a couple of resources with more detailed pruning information.

http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/pruning-redbud-forest-pansy-climbing-clematis/

http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/pruning-spindly-redbud/

 

To learn about other small trees for urban gardens, visit

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/gardening-help-faqs/questionid/218/afmid/4462.aspx