The Q&A Archives: Dead junipers

Questioner's Location: El Cajon, Ca
Date: August 1, 2009

Question: my junipers are turning brown, I had a nice thick 2 to 4 feet edge around my small front yard and now there is just on spot left... we do have ground squirrels in this area... can they be the caus and if not , what could it be?

Answer: Could be squirrels or gophers. Gophers feed primarily on the roots of various plants and occasionally on stems and leaves. They prefer thick tap-rooted plants over thin, fibrous roots but they will eat both. Since junipers have mostly fibrous roots and they thrive in dry soils, and because dry soils tend to be more compacted and less populated with grubs and other insects, the gophers are not so much repelled by the juniper planted area as they are actively avoiding it because there are much more lush and yummy plant roots in other parts of your landscape. Junipers are also susceptible to root rot if the soil does not drain well or if you water too much. You won't know until you dig up a plant or two and inspect the root systems. Good luck with your junipers!

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