En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 16, 2010

From: Shell Beach, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Over-trimmed junipers in Shell Beach CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Help! My husband decided to "trim" the juniper bushes that are in front of our house that create a great private front yard. I guess he cut back into the dead wood and now nothing is regrowing. It's an ugly eye sore. Is there help? Or can you suggest maybe a climbing plant that will cover this up?


We are afraid that is a major OOPS! From this article on Pruning Junipers, from the Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories, we extracted the following information:

"Junipers do not produce buds on old wood and subsequently will not respond to drastic pruning. If specimens become overgrown, replacement rather than severe pruning usually is necessary."

In other words, you should not expect new budding on the old wood that is left. We recommend you read the whole article in order to judge whether the damage is so severe, it's a lost cause. We would not recommend planting a climbing plant to cover the remnants of the tree. In the first place, that would shade out whatever places might still have a chance to bud. In the second place, if the juniper does indeed die, it will then rot out and leave you with a vine that has nowhere to go. We would suggest you give the plant a chance to recover. Don't fertilize it, that is always a knee-jerk reaction to any problem and it just encourages the tree to put on new growth, which it obviously does not have the strength to do right now. The roots need to get some remaining foliage (there is some remaining, we hope?) to start providing food for the plant through photosynthesis in order to recover. If it does begin to grow back, and does so very unevenly, or simply does nothing, then you might as well replace it. 









More Trees Questions

Low maintenance replacement garden in Ashburn , VA
April 30, 2009 - We live in Ashburn, VA (Northern VA). Our house is 10 years old and the contractor grade plants have died. We are planning on digging everything up and re-doing the landscaping in our front yard - r...
view the full question and answer

Having a problem with my Mexican Plum in Houston, TX.
July 05, 2011 - I am having problems with the Mexican Plum Tree in my backyard, sap is oozing from the branches and several large branches have died. I am inclined to think that it I have infestation of borers? How ...
view the full question and answer

Colony of bees nesting in sycamore
July 06, 2010 - I have a very large, old sycamore tree that has recently become home to a colony of honey bees. They have taken up dwelling in a hollow limb of the tree about 25 feet off the ground. While this is gre...
view the full question and answer

Problems with sophora secundiflora
April 19, 2008 - My mountain laurel is looking bad. It has lost of its leaves, especially on the lower part of the tree (it's about 7 feet tall) and many of the remaining ones don't look good - they are curled up an...
view the full question and answer

Small tree for yard in Columbia TN
November 16, 2009 - I have a somewhat small yard but the construction workers put a water and sewer drain in the middle of my yard. The sewer main is located on the far side of my property my width of yard is 60 feet wid...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center