Will our Spartan Junipers survive?

Sparks625July 19, 2014

Greetings tree lovers...

I wanted to see if I could get some feedback on our situation as I think we may be been dealt a bad hand.

We had a very savvy landscaper sell us on planting 20 spartan junipers (8-9' tall) the beginning of this month (July) and it's been a disaster of an experience. I won't go into all of the details but basically because we lost a lot of trust over the experience, we called in a certified arborist to look at the trees and he basically said that we have a very low chance they will survive. He said two of the remaining 18 trees (the landscaper had already lost two trees in the initial planting process) were nearly dead and not worth the water it would take to 'try' and bring them back (very low chances). He also said they were all planted incorrectly. He said they are all planted too deep and are in basins rather than on mounds. He also said the drip system wasn't positioned correctly as the water is spraying directly on the trunks of the trees and due to them being planted in basins, the water is pooling all around the trunks (he said Junipers don't tend to get crown rot but the situation we have them in, it's almost inevitable). He is also concerned of the soil (its native to our area - a decomposed granite that has sloughed off our bank) as it is extremely hard (the landscaper basically had to use a jack hammer to create holes to drop the trees in) and the roots will have a very difficult time moving through the soil. We were also told by the landscaper that the trees would not harm our dry-stacked rock wall but the arborist said it was inevitable in about five years that we will start to see damage to the wall due to the tree roots. There are also big chasms (like the landscaped just pushed a shovel into the soil) around some of the trees and the arborist said this was taking the water away from the tree and just sloppy work. The arborist doesn't think the trees will last more than a few years (and that is with a ton of TLC) and the landscaper only guarantees them for one year.

Half the trees look really scraggly and unkempt, like they were from the bottom of the barrel when picked out (they just showed up at our house, even before we had a proposal signed so we didn't get a chance to comment much on the visual looks of the trees)

We also paid way too much for this project (so feel pretty stupid with that one!) and now that we are getting all of these mixed messages, we feel deflated and discouraged.

My husband and I are not green thumb type people, but we are trying to learn, but man, is there a TON of mixed messages out there.

I tired to upload some photos but not sure I did it right ... we'll see once I post this. (I can only figure out how to upload one photo so I picked the one with all the trees showing and the proximity to the rock wall. It's hard to tell which trees are dead and you can't see the basins they are planted in or the chasms around some of the tree bases. Sorry I couldn't figure out how to upload more images!)

Any feedback you can share would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much,

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You and the certified arborist have covered all the issues on what's wrong with this planting scenario.

The only obvious place to plant a screen of large conifers is in front of the wall planted far enough out as to not crowd the wall as they grow up.

I might add B&B ( 8-9 ft.) conifers planted in July is a non starter. Your savvy landscaper knows this and should have delayed planting until plants are hardened off for the winter. Even if they survived your expenses rebuilding that wall in 5-10 years would have far exceeded what these conifers cost. It just wasn't meant to be. Consider yourself lucky.

Should I ask: You did save your receipt? Take your concerns along with the arborist comments for backup and go for a refund before this guy skips out on you. If he wants to wait a year make sure they are all dead so he doesn't have any wiggle room. His pay back for bad information and substandard plants.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 7:35PM
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Rhonda : Very sorry to hear about this. Unfortunately not all landscape companies know what they are doing, or perhaps would rather cash in on a big project instead of giving practical advice to homeowners.

I agree that midsummer is not the best time for a project like this. A much better time would be in early spring or fall. Summer planting is very risky for large trees like these,

One thing I've learned from this forum is to plant the smaller trees rather than big trees whenever possible. Smaller trees have a better chance of survival and recover a bit faster from transplant shock than larger trees. Your landscaper should have mentioned that.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:50AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

The rock wall wasn't done by anybody who knew what they were doing. It's going to fall apart in places all on it's own without help from the junipers.

This post was edited by mikebotann on Tue, Jul 22, 14 at 19:00

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:43AM
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