Junipers – Dying

Q: These junipers I planted in May are dying. They are in full sun in a landscaped area we just finished. I laid landscape fabric under them and with red cedar mulch around them. I was watering them about every three days for about 5 to 7 minutes on each plant. Three out of 19 are dead and several others are turning brown.

A: The symptoms look like not enough water ever got down to the root ball. I think your recollection about water is wrong. Five minutes each for nineteen plants would be more than an hour holding a water hose and being eaten by mosquitoes.

Mulch tends to absorb the first water you apply and landscape fabric makes it travel in unexpected directions. Thus, you watered each plant for a minute or two but not much water got to the roots.

Pull the mulch back 6″ in all directions from the base of each plant and use a razor knife to cut that same size circle in the landscape fabric.

Pull the mulch back lightly under each plant, leaving none touching the stem.

Use a water wand when you water and direct it at the base of each plant. Time yourself to do it for one minute every five days.

That should be enough water to keep the soil slightly moist at all times and allow it to dry slightly between waterings.

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