Garden Q&A: Junipers

Q. I planted some junipers 10 years ago that are out of control. They are now five feet tall. Can I prune them without killing them off?

A. Junipers, like most conifers, do not have the ability to sprout new growth from the cut stubs of branches. Great care should be taken in pruning them so you don't end up with a disfigured shrub that is more a liability to your landscape than an asset.

The pruning protocol is simple. Identify the longest branches and follow them down to a point where they meet up with another branch, and cut off the long branch entirely. This will likely leave bare areas in your junipers. Repeat this pruning every few years to keep the juniper within bounds.

You may want to take more drastic measures and replant with another conifer that will fit the space more closely.

- Scott Aker is a horticulturist at the U.S. National Arboretum.

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