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When shaping trees, the objective is to manipulate the tree, without scarring the bark, to create the illusion of years of natural stress from the forces of nature. Start slow, with gentle tension. You can gradually increase the tension over time.

Here are 3 methods:

Wire. When wiring, use care not to damage the tree. Don’t wrap the wire too tightly around the wood. Check the wiring often, removing and replacing it as the tree grows. Begin by coiling one end of the copper wire around the base of the tree, and wind it along the trunk or branch you wish to bend. Be certain to lay the wire evenly so as to properly distribute the pressure. When the tree has been wired, bend the branch or trunk carefully with both hands, gripping evenly to avoid snapping the tree.

Tie. Tie a piece of thin hemp rope or cotton twine around the pot. Now tie a piece of twine to the branch you wish to bend, and pull it down with the string until it curves as you like. To maintain the tension, tie the loose end to the string that’s tied around the pot.

Weight. Choose a small stone, not heavy enough to break the tree, and hang it from the trunk or branch with a small length of wire or string. Don’t hang the weight from the very tip, as you could break the tree. Instead, start 1/3 of the way from the tip, wrap the wire or string evenly around until you reach the end, and then let the stone dangle.

Depending on the thickness of the trunk, and the shape you intend to create, you might use these techniques over the course of a season, or even for a year or more.