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     Marijke & Piet.

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Larix (Europeaus) decidua, fukinaoshi-pruning


We prune our Larix (Larch) for shape. This pruning is part of a long running fukinaoshi treatment and entails pruning for shape and applies to most of our tall trees. We started this activity in 2008, after I got hold of the book “Niwaki” by Jake Hobson. I will later write a book review on his great book, watch this space.

The first photo shows the Larix as seen from the main garden, before we started the 2010 “summer pruning”. The second is viewed from the street.

Note: Here you can even have an interactive street view.

The Larix, although it looks like an evergreen, is a deciduous tree. The leaves are needle-like, turn yellow and fall in the late autumn, leaving the tree leafless through the winter. Under normal circumstances you would prune it after the needles have felt off.

One reason why we prune mid-summer, while it is fully dressed, is that the shape is better visible hence pruning is easier.
Secondly, now it has still left half the growing season to grow into the desired shape so it will speed up the process of deriving at its desired shape. This tree now starts to get a layered shape and eventually we will let it develop more into steps, danzukuri, in particular the now single half-globe on top. There actually is a third argument to prune it now and that is just the fact that we can afford it to put so much time and effort in it. The result of this is a good looking garden year round 😀


There are three different pruners we use from three or four different positions, standing on the ground (or on the low front garden wall), standing on a ladder or sitting or hanging in the tree.

  1. Hand pruner
  2. Hedge-shears
  3. Tree pruner


A tree pruner is an elongated adjustable pruning shears. Ours is 3 meter (9 feet) long. Although the length is adjustable, we have fixed it for maximum length for the simple reason that it will not stay on any other length to which we adjust it.
Standing on the wall gives an extra half meter (1.6 feet) length.

The branches that we can not reach with the other tools in different positions, we try to cut with the tree pruner. Try, because sometimes we still need to stand on the ladder and that is not easy nor without danger, taking into account the weight of the fully extended pruner.


Standing on the ladder, in its free standing position I use hedge-shears to clip the curves that can not be reached with the other tools.


To further shape the top of the tree we use the ladder to climb into it and use the hand pruner and hedge-shears to do the required clipping.


For now, this is the “end” result.

In the autumn, when the needles have dropped off, I will remove and shorten more branches to get additional separation and depth.

Note the separation of the lower two layers, also transforming them to large steps and the separation of distinct steps in the former “one lump” head.
The head will get more distinct in the next years. The top will change into a flattened umbrella shape surrounded by, probably five, perhaps six “Islands”, more or less flattened steps.

Related: Fukinaoshi, “to re-do” overgrown trees, Deciduous trees.