The Q&A Archives: Trimming Juniper Bushes

Question: We planted 4 junipers about 10 years ago on the south side of our home. They have grown considerably larger than we'd like--about 4 feet tall--and we are wondering how to go about trimming them back. We're afraid that if we trim back the green growth we'll end up with brown, scruffy bushes. Can we trim and shape them or would they look too unsightly--or even die. Should we just remove them and start over, and plant something else more attractive?

Answer: Junipers can be trimmed and even sheared (some are used as topiary subjects), but will look terrible at first until new growth covers the bare interior branches. It is also possible that too severe a trimming will kill them outright. Whether or not to replace them would depend on your tolerance for the interim ugliness as well as your willingness to trim them regularly. If you opt to replace them, do try to research the mature size of the new plants, and what, if any, annual pruning they require -- it is amazing how large the tiny things we plant can become!

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