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?

Share

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
2 ratings

Sunday - February 13, 2011

From: San Francisco, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Removing juniper roots from San Francisco
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Topic-Juniper Tree Root Removal (agh!) Needs-3 removed yet roots remain, some growing UNDER the cement, driveway and house!!! (under growth = ~3" as far as I can determine, thus far). Question-Do I pursue these roots, go after them? kill them? just cut as far as I can and hope for the best? Actually have pics of this, if you would like to see.

ANSWER:

We found 7 Juniperus species native to California. This USDA Plant Profile shows that Juniperus californica (California juniper) grows in and around San Francisco County. As a matter of fact, the root systems of that genus are going to be pretty similar, so exact identification probably wouldn't help all that much, but we will use that as a sample.

The best advice we can give you is a kind of generic plan for killing persistent invasive roots. As long as there are no leaves growing on sprouts above ground, the roots will eventually starve to death. So, Step One, get rid of sprouts as soon as you see them surface. That is the root fighting to survive by creating new leaves (or needles in this case) to manufacture food for the root. Step Two: buy some disposable sponge paintbrushes and a wide-spectrum herbicide. Make a clean cut on the root and, within 5 minutes, paint the cut surface with full-strength herbicide. You do this so the herbicide can start getting down into the root before the root can heal itself over for protection. Be very careful doing this-don't spill the herbicide and certainly don't spray it, you will kill some things you never meant to. Make absolutely sure that the root you are treating is, indeed, from the juniper. Find as many root endings as you can and treat similarly. There is nothing you can do about the damage already done to driveway and foundation, but as the root dies, it will decompose and add some nice organic material to your soil.

More information and pictures from Calflora

 

More Trees Questions

Pros and cons of live oak leaves left on ground in Dripping Springs TX
February 20, 2013 - What are the pros or cons of leaving live oak leaves on the ground around trees or bushes?
view the full question and answer

Trees & shrubs, low water, no maintenance, disease & pest resistant
May 04, 2013 - We need few Trees and shrubs to meet the following needs: - Low Water or best with a taproot for Ground Water - Clay Soil in Steep Slopes (25-40 degrees) - Low or No Maintenance. (hillside, no trim...
view the full question and answer

Trees & Shrubs for a NY Slope
July 03, 2012 - Our community has a large steep slope (100'high by at least 600' wide) that is sunny & dry. The builders planted "wild flower seeds" on the slope that is now just weeds. We would like to know what...
view the full question and answer

My newly planted Mountain Laurel isn\'t doing well.
March 13, 2009 - My mountain laurel was planted from a container in Dec. It is in part sun, clay soil, and its leaves are turning yellow. should I move it or will that kill it?
view the full question and answer

Growing Chilopsis in Florida
July 25, 2013 - I live in St. Johns County, FL between Jacksonville and St Augustine. I live inland, not near the beach. I bought a small desert willow plant in Victoria, TX and brought it back to FL to grow. I plan ...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center