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Trees have always been one of the most impressive design elements in many ornamental gardens. A tree becomes even more impressive when its crown is as close as possible to a real sphere. Even if the form can sometimes be artificially created and thus imposed more or less clearly on almost every tree, some varieties are naturally far closer to this ideal than others. Easy-care varieties, as we present them below, prove to be particularly easy-care plants due to their growth characteristics, and they can be maintained as spherical trees with comparatively little effort in terms of pruning and care.

What exactly is a ball tree?

The concept of the ball tree falls again and again in connection with garden design and parks. But how exactly is a spherical tree defined? Because unlike with technical issues, there is no absolutely undisputed and sharply defined definition. Nevertheless, two types of spherical tree can be clearly distinguished:

1. The natural ball tree - By nature, it has a growth habit that is very spherical. In addition, a mostly dense, flat growth enhances the spatial impression of the crown shape.

2. The artificial spherical tree - This is a tree whose crown is deliberately shaped into a mostly almost perfect ball through targeted pruning measures. Suitable tree species can be found in the garden in the form of strongly branching, particularly densely growing species that retain the given shape and are additionally compacted for a particularly impressive look.

Most ball trees, especially those that are easy to care for, usually have both characteristics. On the one hand, they already have a uniform spherical crown due to their natural growth. If necessary, they can also be easily cut into shape and, thanks to a particularly dense crown, offer good conditions for abstracting the natural shape again in a targeted manner and thus creating the perfect symbiosis of nature and geometry.

notice: Although the absolute growth height initially has nothing to do with the spherical shape, it is noticeable that small tree species in particular are grown in spherical shape or are cut into spherical trees. One of the main reasons for this is that the branches and twigs are farther apart on large trees. The greater the distance between them, the more difficult it is to perceive the spherical shape due to the gaps that arise.

Easy-care varieties

These types of trees are particularly well-suited to permanently creating a perfect ball tree in your own garden with little effort:

The classics

If you look at public space as the most common place where typical spherical trees are used, it is noticeable that the trees that are traditionally used are limited to just a few species. Their use is based not least on their high insensitivity and the low maintenance effort. They already have a naturally very round crown and only need a little pruning, if at all.

Globe maple (Globosum)

  • Growth height: up to 6 meters
  • Growth form: initially clearly round, with increasing age flattened spherical and weak-growing,
  • Other: Crown diameter around 5 to 6 metres, annual increase at around 15 centimeters in height and width

Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia Umbraculifera)

danger: Often referred to as spherical acacia!

  • Growth height: around 5 to 6 meters
  • Growth form: densely branched, opaque crown, almost perfect spherical shape
  • Other: very striking appearance due to delicate, strongly pinnate leaves with numerous leaflets

Trumpet tree (Catalpa bignonioides 'Nana')

  • Growth height: as a spherical shape 4 to 6 meters (compared to "normal" shape with up to 15 meters)
  • Growth form: spreading flat ball with overhanging shoots
  • Other: annual growth between 20 and 30 centimeters

Other round growing shrubs

In addition to these widespread species, there are numerous other spherical shapes of different types in tree nurseries, which convince with their very own look, but are all just as easy to care for and naturally appear to grow round.

Field maple (Acer campestre Compactum)

  • Height of growth: shrub-like up to 5 to 7 metres, only rarely up to 10 metres
  • Growth form: very bushy to spherical, typical tall tree shape usually only clearly legible after targeted pruning or grafting
  • Other: slow growing

Swamp Oak (Quercus palustris)

  • Growth height: about 3 to 5 meters
  • Growth form: smooth spherical
  • Other: Crown diameter mostly between 3 and 4 meters, rarely up to 5 meters, very slow growing

Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet' + Punicea + Punicea Flore Pleno)

  • Growth height: 5 to 7 meters
  • Growth habit: initially slender, becoming broader and more spherical when old
  • Other: crown width 3.5 to 5 meters
Hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet'

Refined spherical trees

In addition to real trees, woody plants are also used today, which are particularly characterized by their insensitive properties, but grow more like a bush than real trees. Here, as part of the rearing by the gardener, there is already a refinement to a high-stemmed plant, so that the bushy, spherical growth of the actual species is combined with the high-stemmed nature of a carrier species for an even more attractive appearance.

Gingko (Biloba Mariken)

  • Growth height: 0.8 to 2 meters
  • Growth habit: very compact and dense, initially upright, later much more spherical
  • Other: pruning of emerging shoots necessary for ideal spherical shape, but often strong odor nuisance due to fermenting or decaying fruits of female trees

Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua "Gum Ball")

  • Growth height: 3 to 5 meters
  • Growth form: round and very spherical
  • Other: crown diameter up to 4 meters

Wild Cherry (Prunus fruticosa Globosa)

danger: also found as spherical cherry or dwarf cherry!

  • Height of growth: up to a maximum of 5 meters when old
  • Growth habit: relatively light, slightly branched crown with a clear spherical shape
  • Other: very low demands on soil and environment, is considered to be very robust

Trees that tolerate pruning

In addition to these predominantly natural spherical trees, tree species that are particularly easy to cut can also be pruned into the perfect spherical shape. The particularly easy-care types are characterized by a very good compatibility of the shape and a quick closing of cut gaps. Thanks to the possibility of a second topiary in the late year, they can be easily shaped even for beginners, as mistakes can be corrected again in a short time.

False cypress (Chamaecyparis)

  • Growth height: approx. 2 to 3 meters
  • Growth form: very dense growth, opaque crown
  • Other: Due to the high sheet density, it can be shaped in almost any way

Willow (Salix caprea)

danger: Also known as Kitten Willow!

  • Growth height: 5 to 10 meters depending on the location
  • Growth form: dense and spherical
  • Other: Crown width up to a maximum of 7 meters, annual increase of 50 to 70 centimeters
The catkins make the willow extremely bee-friendly.

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