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February 13, 2016
We have a low-growing but wide evergreen bush in our front yard and we’re not quite
sure what it is. Could you help us identify it please (see attached photos)? I’m
thinking it must be some kind of Juniper, but we would like to get another one. I
imagine it could benefit from a bit of pruning since it has spread in width considerably
since we moved here 15 years ago. Seems happy in this south-facing location though!
I believe it is a variety of Chinese juniper, possibly ‘Sea Green’ or ‘Pfitzeriana’.
Junipers are not as forgiving of severe pruning as broadleaf evergreens are. Junipers
don’t have dormant buds on old wood, so make sure you leave green needle growth at
the ends of the branches when pruning. If it isn’t interfering with the rest of your
landscape, there is no need to prune.
November 28, 2015
I had two trees removed from my back yard early last summer; a Bradford Pear (Fire
Blight) and a Maple (Slime Flux?) Now I'm looking for replacement trees. I really
don't need shade as this is in the East yard, therefore, I would prefer something
not to exceed 20 - 25 feet tall. I'm leaning towards a holly but will consider other
evergreens. The soil I'm dealing with is heavy orange clay. In fact the Maple I removed
had a lot of surface roots. Thank you for any suggestions?
The maple would have probably had surface roots even in decent soil—that is the nature
of maples. I am assuming you want something evergreen. Some options include: Little
Gem magnolia, Foster holly, Burford holly, deodara cedar, cherry laurel or one of
the larger junipers. If it doesn’t have to be evergreen, I love the sweetbay magnolia
or even one of the tulip magnolia trees, redbuds or dogwoods.
I have an evergreen tree in my backyard that is covered with the cocoons in the attached
pictures. These insects seem to be destroying my tree. Can you tell what this is and
what, if anything, I can do to get rid of the insects and save the tree? I've also
noticed that they are spreading to the other evergreen in my yard. Thanks for your
Wow, that is the most impressive damage I have seen from bagworms. These tiny insects
started feeding in May. As the larvae crawls and feeds, they construct the sack or
bag around their body which protects them from predators and insecticides. They are
typically in their crawling/feeding stage for about a month from mid May through June
depending on the weather. By now, the damage has been done--and your tree has had
a lot of damage! Hand picking and destroying the bags can cut down on problems next
year for neighboring trees, but this tree will take years to recover. If it were mine,
I would cut it down and burn or destroy it now. If you have bagworms every year, you
may want to implement a spray program on the needle type evergreens in mid May. One
application a week with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) or similar insecticide will work. Three applications a year should suffice. Bagworms
prefer junipers, Eastern red cedars, Leyland cypress and arborvitae plants.
I would like to know the best time of year to trim and shape my spiral topiaries and
what is the best kind of tool to do the job. I have been using a cordless hand-held
trimmer from Black and Decker, but I'm not sure that trimming in late spring was a
good thing, as one of my shrubs was attacked by spider mites. I then applied too much
miticide, and will have to wait till spring to see if it survives or will have to
be replaced. I have promised the topiary that if it survives, I will never again treat
it so badly and will, instead, seek the advice of Janet Carson.
If your spiral topiary is a juniper, which many are, then light shaping can be done
throughout the season. To prevent rapid new growth, you may want to wait until early
June if you just need a little maintenance. Spring pruning sometimes encourages rapid
new growth. You do need to be careful not to prune too severely, as junipers only
have growth buds on green needles. Don't cut a section back to old wood, or it won't
sprout out. I don't think your pruning job had much to do with the spider mites--they
like it hot and dry, which our summer had in abundance. With junipers, you do need
to use caution with chemicals--always read and follow the label directions. As to
the best tool, I think you would have better control using non-electric tools; again
it is better to err on the side of taking off less, than too much.
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