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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - June 25, 2009

From: Arvada, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives, Problem Plants
Title: Removing non-native juniperus x pfitzeriana in Arvada CO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have 200' of large juniper pfitzers (3' tall - 4' wide) that completely enclose our front yard. We want to remove all of them but the estimates to dispose of them have been extremely high. One suggestion was to use a mulcher to eliminate the high cost of renting the roll-offs. Any suggestions on the best way to go about this? We don't want to get caught trying to do something that might be best left to professionals.

ANSWER:

This is quite a turnabout for us, as we get numerous requests for suggestions for hedge plantings, evergreen, of course, and some of them with lengths equal to or greater than yours. We sometimes find ourselves recommending members of the Juniperus genus, mostly to get the evergreen characteristics. Your plant, Juniperus x pfitzeriana, is a hybrid, grown only in cultivation, and therefore not considered a native plant. At the Lady  Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we deal only in plants native to North America but also to the area in which they are being grown.  The nativity of the plant really has nothing to do with your problem, however, and it is a problem.

It's a shame you could not offer your shrubs to anyone who wants to come and dig them up, but junipers are notoriously difficult to transplant, even when they are quite small, as they have taproots that, once damaged, don't repair themselves easily. Frankly, tree disposal is somewhat out of our line, but we can certainly understand why the prices you have been quoted are so high. To begin with, just getting those shrubs out of the ground will be a difficult operation, and then, when they have been ground into mulch, that will be a mountain of mulch. 

Perhaps you need to re-think your priorities. Perhaps you could arrange to take just a few of the shrubs out at a time. Rearranging and replanting your garden could be done over a period of time, with a long-range plan. At some point, you might decide you wanted to actually retain some of the junipers, as background planting, or a privacy screen. We have no personal experience with this particular job, but we really don't think it's feasible as a do-it-yourself job. 

 

 

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