Juniper – Pruning Large Ones

Q: We have some huge junipers as a border around the house. They are now ten or twelve feet high and leaning to the point of almost falling over. They have become a lot larger than expected. We would like to encourage growth at the bottom as well as shorten them to around six feet. When and how do we trim these shrubs?

A: Your problem is nigh impossible to solve as you wish. Unlike shrubs that have broad leaves (holly, photinia, etc.) junipers have very few dormant buds beneath their bark. It’s the dormant buds which allow a broad-leafed shrub to re-sprout and regain its form after being pruned. You can shorten your junipers to six feet but the resulting flat-top will remain brown and ugly for several years. Since pruning only stimulates buds within twelve inches of the cut, even if you shorten the shrubs they won’t leaf out close to the ground.

I think you have two options: shorten the junipers and plant small shrubbery in front of them to hide the bare trunks or dig them out and replace them. The University of Georgia now has their excellent “Landscape Plant Materials for Georgia on-line

or you can ask for a copy to be mailed to you by calling 1-800-ASKUGA1.

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