Last updated: November 18, 2021

What Does Canopy Mean?

In horticulture, a canopy is defined as the uppermost trees, or branches of the trees, in a forest, forming a more or less continuous layer of foliage. A canopy is the topmost layer of bioactivity in a forest setting.

A canopy can also refer to the portion of a plant community found above ground formed by the crowns of individual plants. Within the garden, the canopy is where you will most likely find both the fruits of plants (the edible portion), as well as the insects that prey on those fruits and the plants’ leaves. However, a canopy can also refer to a physical structure raised to provide shade or to block rainfall or other precipitation in a particular area.


Maximum Yield Explains Canopy

The word canopy can be applied to a wide range of environments in which plant crowns are close together. You’ll find canopies in tropical rainforests, but also in deciduous forests and even within home gardens.

Within the natural world, most animal and insect life is actually found in the canopy, rather than on the ground. In fact, up to 90% of all life in a forest can be found in the upper reaches of the environment.

In the realm of gardening, the canopy is the highest of the seven layers. It is the topmost area where biodiversity is found, and is a common expression that is applied to plants like corn, fruit trees, and even shade trees and trees within a wooded section of the land.

This concept also applies in forest gardening, with a technique that relies on the use of canopy trees interspersed with ground cover and fruit-bearing plants to provide shade, climbing opportunities for vines, and protection for wildlife. In this sense, existing shade trees can be used, or a forest garden can be started from scratch with seedling shade trees planted and allowed to mature over the course of decades.


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