What to do about dead-in-the-middle junipers

LisaF0304April 9, 2013

When we bought our house last year the previous owners had sheared back all of the junipers planted in the rock garden, exposing big clusters of dead twigs in the centers (the only green growth being at the perimeters). I've been hoping they would bounce back, but after a year they still look dead and ugly. Is there any way to re-invigorate these shrubs? Pulling them out is really not an option; I think they're nearly as old as the house and have huge trunks (for shrubs) and root structures

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

In order for conifer branches to regenerate, they must have some green needles.
If all the green is gone, you might apply a green turf dye to tide you over while you consider what you'll do next.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:35AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

This time of year they should pull out really easily. Hook a chain or strong rope to a car or truck bumper or hitch and they'll come right out.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:37AM
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plantknitter(8)

Yep, your bumper will come right out!

Here is a link to WSU on Juniper trouble.

Here is a link that might be useful: WSU The Trouble with Junipers

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:58PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

OP knows what happened to the junipers. They were cut back too severely!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 2:39PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

They cut the live part off and left you with the "dead zones" on the inside.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 2:39PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

"I've been hoping they would bounce back"

The size issue will have to be dealt with by sawing them off near the ground, leaving the roots to rot out. Should be able to find places to plant other shrubs between them, in the meantime.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 3:24PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Lol. Have fun. Our house was planted with junipers 40 years ago and we spent the last 2 summers painstakingly digging the roots out, as we have power and communication lines running underneath all of them. Of all the gardening projects I've undertaken (including moving 6 tons of basalt and 6 yards of gravel into my backyard with a wheelbarrow in pouring rain), the junipers were the worst. Worth it though. Our lot looks twice as big as it did.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 11:06AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Now, in order to present a consistent image you should plant laurels.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 10:02PM
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larry_gene

3rd image made my hand hurt. My sea buckthorns were less painful to handle than juniper innards.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 11:45PM
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merrygardener(z8olywa)

A big HA! To bboy's comment!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 3:06PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Hahahaha. I actually ended up putting a few blue star junipers in after tearing these ones out. It took some deep digging emotionally to come to terms with it though.

Try crawling around under them trying to unknot the branches with your loppers in 90 degree heat (wearing long sleeves tucked into your gloves of course.)

To the OP.... You really don't have many other options. You could cut them back further and put in an evergreen shrub to block off the parts that are cut back and dead(a band-aid), or bite the bullet and remove them for good, which will make your garden look much better and is the right way to do it. Realistically, 1-2 bushes isn't so bad. I took out 6-10 6' ft tall bushes in each "batch". That ended up being 4-6 loads in a uhaul truck to the yard waste recycling center each time. I can't imagine that yours are anywhere near as tall as our though. so probably much less work.

You could easily get a couple bushes trimmed out (or do it over a few weeks time filling your yard waste bin each week) and the stumps dug out in one misery-filled day. I tore out probably 8 huge tall juniper bush portions by myself in one day. The next day my husband and friend helped dig out the stumps.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 1:32PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

My husband has pulled junipers, a 6' pine, a 30' long laurel hedge (trunks and roots, after we paid to have the tops cut and shredded) a 6' x 8' Colorado blue spruce and other assorted plants out of the ground with his trunk and a chain, no damage to the bumper....in wet weather they pop right out.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:03PM
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