General guidelines for bonsai
These are just "rules of thumb" to get started in bonsai:
- Roots showing above the soil are one way to make the tree look old and sturdy.
- The roots don't necessarily need to be symmetrical, but they generally should extend out in all directions. There should be balance with the rest of the tree.
- Pay attention to how the roots connect to the trunk and try to make it look realistic. Do the roots radiate and flow outward, or do they create a firm anchor for the trunk? The rest of the tree should work in harmony with the root structure.
- The trunk should have a natural taper. A trunk that is the same thickness the whole way up looks unnatural.
- The thickness of the trunk should work with the rest of the tree. A thin trunk might work for a delicate maple, but a thicker trunk would look better for a strong, sturdy oak.
- The trunk line should be visible even if a bit of foliage grows in front of it. The trunk is what guides the eye through the design.
- The shape of the trunk should work with the texture of the bark. A rough bark texture looks older and should be reflected in the design of the trunk, but a more delicate texture might look better with a thinner trunk.
- The first level of branches should be about 1/3 of the way up the trunk.
- The heaviest branches should be at the bottom
- The branches should be thicker near the trunk and taper off as they go outward
- The longer a branch grows, the thicker it will grow near the trunk. By keeping the branch trimmed short you can keep it from becoming too thick. By letting it grow longer you can make it thicker.
- Some common branch patters are undesirable: crossing branches, branches coming out of the same point on the trunk, branches that grow directly opposite each other on the same level of the trunk, upward growing branches. These patterns should be trimmed to remove them or wired to change their shape.
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