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Mr. Smarty Plants - Weeds in Blue Rug juniper in Phoenix MD

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Monday - September 28, 2009

From: Phoenix, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Weeds in Blue Rug juniper in Phoenix MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

The landscaper planted Blue Rug Junipers around the Helleri Holly and Yews in front of my house ten years ago. The Blue Rug has done great and looks really nice. My problem is that weeds grow up in the Blue Rug. I keep pulling the weeds, but I can't keep up with them. So, I am thinking of digging up the Blue Rug. I planned to spray them with Roundup to kill them before I dig them up. How hard are the Blue Rug to dig up? A friend told me they are extremely difficult to dig up.

ANSWER:

Blue Rug juniper is a trade name for Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper), and usually also referred to as cultivar 'Wiltonii.' While the creeping juniper is native to North America, it is not native to Maryland. It needs full sun to flourish and very good drainage; it will not tolerate water on its feet. It is possible that because your plant has been planted out of its native area that it is not growing vigorously enough to resist the weeds coming up through it. We did some research and most of the information we found said that to keep weeds out of this juniper, you need to put down weed barrier and mulch before it is planted. Little late for that, but something to remember if you try it again. 

As for whether it is difficult to dig up or not, what are your choices? Leave it there or dig it up. Since some people are allergic or sensitive to the foliage of this juniper, if you decide to dig the plants out, prepare yourself with long sleeves and heavy leather gloves. It will be easier to get at the roots if you first trim away all the upper growth that you can.This will give you easier access to the soil around the roots and permit you to get deep in the dirt close to the crown. We recommend neither for nor against the use of herbicides, but in this case, we don't see how it would help. You're taking the foliage out anyway, and what you need to get at is the root, which probably wouldn't be affected by the herbicide at all. Plus, you always run the risk with herbicides of inadvertently getting something else you didn't want killed, and losing a valuable shrub or tree. 

Pictures of Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper) from Google.

 

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