I posted here about deciding NOT to remove all the old, overgrown and crappy-looking Junipers in front of this building. Commenters warned that if allowed to stand, the massive plants would harbor rodents, trash and criminals. But rather than have them all yanked out, I removed PILES and PILES of lower limbs, and they immediately looked much better, with no rodents, trash or criminals in sight.
And now four years later they look like this!
(To another commenter who opined that Golden Mop False Cypress is just TOO common? Believe me, not in this community – probably because so few of our gardens have been professionally designed.)
I’m surprised by how enamored I am by these tough old Junipers, with their robust new growth and appealing limb pattern, now visible. I’d wondered at first if my pruning would spur new growth from the bottom, as it will for yews and maybe some other conifers, and indeed it did NOT. But it turns out that’s for the best because now that the centers are open, they’ll stay that way without any further pruning on my part.
I will continue to prune just a bit at the top to keep them from blocking windows, though – and I see by this photo that it’s time to do that. (I also love that I can do this kind of pruning any time the temps are above freezing – anytime I feel like gardening anyway.)
My excuse for posting yet again about these Junipers? Someone complimented me on their sculptural form the other day and asked how I’d decided what parts to keep and what parts to cut away, to achieve this effect.
My answer? That no creative vision was involved at all – I simply removed all the plants parts that were dead and left the rest. No deciding to do. The healthy underneath was REVEALED.
Most of the pruning work was done from below, like so much of shrub-pruning, when it’s done the right way.
The view above reveals some dead bits still to be removed. It’s been a gradual process over four years.
Here’s a reminder of what the Junipers looked like before I began pruning the nine that remained after the three nearest the sidewalks were ripped out by a top-loader (I believe it’s called). What a thrill it was to see how quickly an otherwise back-breaking job can be done by heavy equipment and someone who knows to use it.
Love the end result of your creative pruning job. The junipers resemble giant bonsai specimens. Gold Mop false cypresses are attractive when allowed to grow in their natural shaggy, mop-like form. Sadly, Pittsburgh area landscapers tend to prune Gold Mop into to tight “meatball” shapes (my # 1 garden rant from western Pennsylvania).
Yes! I’ve done this for clients, and what a difference cutting out the dead twiggy stuff makes. I’ve finally gotten around to attacking mine after it suffocated my heat exchanger, and though not ideal, it will do as a screen from that big ugly box – and allow it to work less hard by throwing some shade.
I’ve never cared for juniper but you’ve accomplished is very attractive.
Years ago I had that done to a yew at the front of the house. It had been pruned to look like a giant bowling ball when the descendents trimmed everything to make their mother’s house look tidier for selling. A family member was married to a guy that worked for a company that specialized in rejuvenating tired landscapes. They were visiting from out of state over Christmas. He brought his scrapbook. I was entranced. Other family members not so much. I said I have this yew , could you give me some tips? He said I brought my tools, I always travel with them. It was well below freezing, and after dark. We go out. My four old son is in charge of the flashlight, hopping around like a flea. The guy starts pruning, and hyperventilating. I’m ready to call 911. Oh I’m fine he says, I just love doing this so much. Still looks great after 30 years and done in poor lighting.
I love that story! And totally relate.
Used to see this often when I lived Chicago burbs, I always thought it was intentional now I’m thinking they just printed out dead stuff, looks great!
I trimmed up two HUGE holly trees and love the open look below them! I put asian musician statues under one tree and a fox statue under the other. The trunks are so interesting and frees up air to circulate under the hollies. Viola!
Nice! I did something similar with burning bush, to reveal the interesting bark, and an old fashion lilac. Sometimes it’s nice to keep what plants you have, just give them an updated look.
I cut back overgrown azaleas and other foundation bushes when we first moved into our new-to-us home. All looked good for three years. Next spring I will cut the azaleas way back again after they bloom as they are getting too tall.
It’s nice to make use of plant material that is growing well and just needs a little rejuvenation to look good rather than ripping everything out.
Three cheers for keeping the old junipers! They look great. I don’t know how it is where you live, but up here in Ontario, it takes forever for some plants to achieve a decent size (zone 4b). To me, ripping out old(er) plants is a mistake given the time needed to replace them with something similar in size. In this era of climate change, losing a tree, any tree, even a small one, is a tragedy.
Wow, cool! A juniper was eating the house on the corner of my street for years, new folks trimmed it out and I was impressed.
Thanks so much for this series. It gave me confidence to do the same for the two 35 year old shrubs at my home and they look so much better. I’m looking forward to seeing how they look after a few years.