The juniper tree is one of the most popular evergreen varieties for hedgerows. They’re often used as a natural, living fence to keep in animals, or to provide privacy for a garden. Their leaves have more of a scaly look than coniferous needles and have a fleshy, berry like cones where their seeds develop. Some species such as the Spartan, Skyrocket and Wichita Blue juniper trees can grow up to 15-20 feet tall whereas their mature widths can range from species to species.
Choosing a location:
The ideal planting area should receive direct sunlight for most of the day with well draining soil (adding rocks and gravel is a good way to ensure proper drainage). Junipers will also live in alkaline, acidic or mineral lacking soil, making them one tough tree to add to your landscape!
Soil preparation is essential when planting new juniper trees. The soil should be thoroughly mulched, watered and weeded prior to planting.
1) Dig a planting hole for your juniper that’s twice as wide as the diameter and as deep as the depth of the root ball. Add a good bag of compost to the soil and mix well. It’s also recommended to add some gravel or small rocks into the soil mixture to improve its drainage.
3) Back-fill your hole by packing the amended soil around the root ball and gently tamp the soil down to get rid of any air pockets.
4) Once your tree is upright and firmly planted, spread mulch around its base, and then water the soil. Pour water around the base until the soil is moist down to the roots. A slow trickling garden hose is best because the water will soak into the soil deeply down to the root system.
Water your juniper twice a week during its first month; afterwards it will need to be watered regularly for the first couple months after planting. During periods of extended drought increase your watering habit to once every week or two. Juniper trees are susceptible to diseases from overwatering and excessive moisture than they are to insects or animals.
You can give younger juniper trees some fertilizer once a year during the fall season to encourage healthy growth. More mature trees usually only need to be fed once every 2-3 years. It is best to apply a slow-release, organic granular formula such as 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 fertilizer into the soil. Scratch the fertilizer into the top inch of the soil with a rake and then water the area well after applying.
The best time to prune your juniper tree is in the late winter to early spring. Cut your new growth back roughly halfway, as this facilitates healthy new growth and helps with the shaping of the tree to keep it attractive. Remove branches growing the wrong direction and any dead branches with hand pruners. The leaves can be a bit prickly at times, so be sure to wear a long sleeve shirt when pruning your juniper tree. Trim the canopy into any shape you would like but try to do it gradually over several years.
One of the best things about your juniper tree/shrub is that once it becomes established it requires very little care. They are very effective as ornamental privacy screen trees or bushes. Junipers are easy to grow, have great drought tolerance and are also deer resistant!