Q: Hi, central MN here. I bought and planted a 12"+ tall, <1" dia. Eastern Hemlock from a plastic container to my yard a few weeks ago. It is quite bushy and healthy looking with many branches and some are all the way to within 1" from the ground. There is new growth showing at the tips of all the branches. However, I would like to train this as a natural tree shape (conical shape with some trunk showing). I have already tied the drooping center leader to a wooden dowel, hopefully to encourage it to take the lead. The outside/lower branches seemingly want to compete with the center most shoot and there appears to be no definite leader on this tree (it looks more like a bush). My question: Can I remove a couple of the lower branches, leaving a couple of inches of bare trunk? I thought this might make it possible/easier to wrap/protect the lower trunk from possible mice damage this winter with some sort of wrap or mesh? And hopefully remove some of the competing leaders that appear to be all going in an upward direction? Thanks!
You can remove the lower branches, but also consider pruning lightly to begin shaping it into a tree form, but do not touch the new leader. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy