Can You Keep A Sycamore Tree Small? [And Can You Keep Them From Growing?]

Finding the best way to care for the trees in your garden can sometimes feel impossible. Do you have a sycamore tree you need to keep somewhat small and don't know if this is doable?

Can you prune a sycamore enough to keep it a specific size? We will answer these questions and many others throughout this article. Let's get right into it below!

It is possible to keep a sycamore tree smaller, but get ready for constant pruning. Many gardeners refer to this heavy pruning as 'pollarding,' as it means you have to shape your sycamore to be small and dense.

One of the benefits of doing this to sycamore is that your tree's canopy will be much fuller, so that's a benefit to the more extreme shaping and cutting.

However, you want to ensure you remove some of your tree's canopy while pruning, as this keeps it disease-free.

As we start this post, we will cover all things growing sycamore trees and how to keep them small. Whether you're somewhere with a limited garden space or want to try urban tree planting, we're here to offer some help. With that said, let's dive right into this topic!

A tall Sycamore tree sandwiched between hills, Can You Keep A Sycamore Tree Small? [And Can You Keep Them From Growing?]

Can You Keep A Sycamore Tree Small?

Yes, it is possible (and very common) to keep a sycamore tree on the smaller side. Generally, you can do this through routine pruning and shaping so your sycamore remains a specific size.

A tall Sycamore tree sandwiched between hills, Can You Keep A Sycamore Tree Small? [And Can You Keep Them From Growing?]

This process is called 'pollarding,' essentially a heavier trim than regular tree maintenance.

You want to ensure you shape your sycamore to your ideal height and then cut back any foliage/branches extending past the desired space.

Luckily, this won't be too challenging if you start with a younger tree, so keep that in mind. Sometimes, heavily pruning an older sycamore can send it into shock, which you want to avoid doing.

A tall crowning Sycamore tree photographed at the garden

On the other hand, you can also achieve a similar shape with more frequent "light" pruning, so that could be a better option for some trees.

Keeping the canopy of a sycamore dense is great for its aesthetics, but you still want to cut excess branches off every once in a while to keep your tree healthy/disease-free.

How Do You Reduce The Size Of A Sycamore Tree?

If your sycamore is already growing past its limits, there are ways to get the situation under control. As we covered above, pruning is essential for keeping your sycamore tinier.

We recommend starting small, focusing on trimming shorter branches and twigs with a pair of shears. Once you get a general shape for your tree, that's when you can begin a more intense pruning.

If you want to do this yourself, you'll need a chainsaw or pruning saw for larger sections of the sycamore. Suppose you want to give your tree a rounded canopy.

You can remove any excess length from the ends of the branches on your tree using shears (smaller branches) or a chainsaw/pruning saw (larger branches).

That said, most gardeners try to follow a sycamore's natural shape, which resembles a taller, rounder shape.

Just because you keep a sycamore smaller doesn't mean you need to disturb its natural growing pattern.

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How Much Space Does A Sycamore Tree Need?

You generally want to give a sycamore tree 20-30 feet of space in your garden. However, this much space isn't always necessary, depending on how you shape one.

For example, if you have an open space in your landscape where you wish to plant a sycamore, you might want to leave 20 or more feet for it to fill out.

Since a mature sycamore spreads upwards of 20-30 feet, this species can become quite large. In contrast, a sycamore that you prune routinely to be smaller won't spread nearly that much as it matures.

This all comes down to how you shape your sycamore.

Cows gathering underneath a Sycamore tree

An interesting fact about sycamore trees is that they don't mind pollution. So, it's common to see this species throughout city landscaping, often growing in very small plots of land.

Therefore, keeping one smaller is doable and very common throughout urban environments.

How Small Can You Keep A Sycamore Tree?

Although there isn't a specified size for a sycamore, you want to let your tree mature and grow a bit. Like any species, a sycamore will need to develop vertically and horizontally as it ages.

So, if you don't want yours to spread more than ten feet wide, you should allow for some vertical expansion. Sycamores are known for their vast canopies, often reaching over 100 feet tall.

However, you don't need to give your tree that much freedom, but try and let it become either tall or wide as it matures. On the other hand, if you want a small sycamore, that is possible too.

As we mentioned, you can train and shape sycamore trees to be on the smaller side, although your tree won't be as impressive at a tinier mature size.

Do Sycamore Trees Get Big?

A fully grown Sycamore tree photographed at a farm

Yes! One main reason gardeners try to keep their sycamore tree small is how large it can become over the years. Usually, a sycamore tree will reach 70-100 feet tall and around 65-80 feet wide at maturity.

That said, in ideal growing conditions, it's possible to see a sycamore become upwards of 120 feet tall, which is massive for any landscape.

Therefore, it's vital to maintain a routine pruning schedule if you want your tree to remain small to mid-sized. Failing to shape your sycamore will result in a massive tree as it matures, so this is imperative.

Your sycamore tree may also grow smaller or larger depending on where it is. For example, a tree growing along a city sidewalk won't become nearly as expansive as one out on a farm.

It's also worth noting that the branches of a sycamore can become quite large. Therefore, you want to get ahead of them with your pruning to avoid having to hire a professional to come out.

How Can You Stop A Sycamore Tree From Growing?

One of the easiest ways to stop a sycamore tree from growing is heavily pruning it. Even though this can sometimes shock your tree, heavy trimming will cause a sycamore to slow or even stop growing for some time.

If you want to stop a sycamore tree from spreading, it's also common to use herbicides around it. However, this can sometimes negatively affect healthy portions of a sycamore, so think of herbicides as a last resort.

Instead, we recommend trying to trim your sycamore and shape it as it grows and matures. Doing this will essentially train it to grow a specific size rather than needing to shock it or harm it later on.

Even though your tree is hardy, that doesn't mean it can always withstand harsh products or pruning practices too frequently.

Like any tree, it's better to take a slow and steady approach versus something drastic.

Do Sycamore Trees Have Deep Roots?

Surprisingly, a sycamore tree's roots won't be too deep in the soil. Typically, you can expect the root system of sycamore to follow a more wide-spreading pattern versus deep into the ground.

An interesting fact about this species' roots is that most of them will be only a few feet below the ground's surface. However, that's not to say some of your sycamore's roots won't expand six feet or so into the soil.

Depending on the type of ground you have your tree in, this will affect how deep, and wide its roots need to expand to secure it in place.

Newly pruned sycamore trees at the garden

For example, a sycamore tree in loamy soil won't need to have as deep of roots as one in sandier conditions, so this makes a difference.

You also need to factor in the size of your sycamore. If you keep it smaller, you won't see the same root growth as a larger, more wild-growing tree.

That said, it's possible to see the roots of a sycamore have a radius of nearly 30 feet, so they can become an issue in smaller spaces.

How Close Can A Sycamore Tree Be To A House?

You generally want to keep a sycamore tree about 15 feet from your home. Considering this tree species can get pretty large above and beneath the soil, leaving plenty of room between it and nearby structures is best.

As we said, sycamore trees can stay small with routine pruning, although this won't always stop them from growing or developing vast root systems.

So, it's essential to plan accordingly to prevent your tree from damaging the foundation of your house. Many experts also recommend leaving 15 or more feet of space between a sycamore tree and a nearby sidewalk.

Since this tree will develop sprawling roots, one too close to cement could result in cracking or lifting.

To Finish

A tall Sycamore tree sandwiched between hills

Whether you want to grow a sycamore tree in the city or the suburbs, it's always good to know how big or small they'll become. We found that you can keep a sycamore tree smaller if you regularly prune and shape it.

Ideally, you want to start shaping your tree very young, decreasing the work you need to do as your sycamore matures. It's also worth mentioning that a wild sycamore can grow upwards of 100 feet tall, so if you don't prune yours, this massive sizing is possible. 

You can also easily grow sycamore's in urban environments, making this species perfect for almost anybody's garden.

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related posts below!

Sycamore Tree Dying - What To Do?

7 Indoor Trees With Small Leaves That You Can Grow

Best Small Trees For Pots In Full Sun [15 Gorgeous Ideas For Your Landscaping]

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