Junipers under mature maples?

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Debra Dunaway, Sep 28, 2006.

  1. Debra Dunaway

    Debra Dunaway Active Member

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    I have a protected western facing slope that has 3 mature maples growing on it with a lawn at the flat spot at the end. I was hoping to plant some junipers here...do you think I would be wasting my time or not? The earth is very dry. I need something here. suggestions? Nothing grows except the occassional tuft of grass when it REALLY rains...hmmmm maybe just a mulch? Suggestions? Thx, Deb...and no, cutting down the maples is NOT an option! lol
     
  2. Rima

    Rima Active Member

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    How 'under' the maples do you really mean - directly beneath trees, or just nearby? They won't work right underneath - maple roots are shallow, the juniper roots will affect them, and the junipers will have nowhere to grow because of the maple roots, lack of sun and competition for available water. You really can't grow anything much there at all - maybe rethink the space altogether.
     
  3. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Junipers & drought (& dry soil) go quite well together....junipers & shade DO NOT go well together.

    Not knowing what zone you're in, I don't want to suggest shrubs that may not make it through the winter....I would suggest a nature walk, looking for similar soil/light conditions, and see what grows there.

    Simon
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Pfitzers are successful in partial shade. However, the same conditions that have resulted in bare ground beneath the trees will still be in force when planting anything new unless situation is modified. Perhaps the trees could be limbed up to admit more light without making them look too ridiculous, for starters.
     
  5. Debra Dunaway

    Debra Dunaway Active Member

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    Here are a couple of pictures of the area in question. I could thin the branches out somewhat to admit more light but then would still run into the problem of those roots. Hmmmm.....what to do
     

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  6. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    With the correct selection of drought tolerant shrubs, the shrubs will be able to compete with the maples. The impact on the maples will be minor. Raising the canopy a bit will broaden your shrub selection by increasing the light available.

    Speaking from experience gardening around 100+ year old Silver Maples, you may have to dig more than one hole if you hit a large root.

    Simon
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Norway maple (Acer platanoides). Barren ground beneath is typical, very shady and rooty tree. Maybe cut the two smaller ones down and keep the larger, with that two storey house right there you possibly don't need the shade from all three and paring them down to one would greatly enhance the gardening potential for the spot.

    Norway maple is a pest species in North America so some would prefer all three were removed, but replacing the amount of shade they now provide with another choice might take decades.
     
  8. Debra Dunaway

    Debra Dunaway Active Member

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    Thank you for your replies. The house in the picture is ours and it gets extremely hot here, thus the reluctance for cutting any of these trees down..They also are my major source for compost and we have had no problems with any pests. I could lift the canopy though and will try a couple of junipers and see how they go...thank you Simon.
     
  9. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Ah, so it is definitely shady, as others have conjectured. Depending on the angle of the sun this is suprisingly often not the case under trees.

    As for dry... obviously the tree roots are mostly to blame for this, but the slope is also a contributing factor. Anything that you do plant, I would try to make a level patch, maybe with the help of a few stones used as retaining, so that you can water it effectively at least until it is established.

    I'm also not clear on why you've settled on junipers, maybe just because they grow in tough situations (and they do!). If you want to grow junipers of course give that look a try, or do you want a garden here, or some green carpeting, or some focal points...? There is always statuary! But you may remember this thread, to which you also contributed; the same ideas might apply to your situation: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=18691.
     
  10. Debra Dunaway

    Debra Dunaway Active Member

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    Thank you Karin! I did try some pachysandra here and it is growing, albeit slowly. I was leaning more towards junipers as it is easy to vacuum/mulch the leaves off of them whereas I'm afraid that other more tender groundcovers will get destroyed in this process, and I like the fact that junipers do look really nice and defined with a good trimming once a year. When I took this picture it was in the morning and this slope faces west. It gets about 6-7 hours direct (quite high intensity) sunlight under there in the afternoon and just cooks. Statuary!! I like that idea! Thanks for the suggestion about making horizontal plantings. Perhaps I could construct some tiered planters and after a while they won't be seen as the junipers grow over the sides. Good suggestions....greatly appreciated! Deb
     
  11. kia796

    kia796 Active Member

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    I have mature junipers just downwind of mature maples, and it is a mess when Fall winds blow all the leaves among the junipers. Hard to rake leaves out of the pockets without catching the rake, or breaking juniper branches.

    Wish I knew this years ago, but I'll never again plant a deciduous tree ABOVE/NEAR a juniper. This won't help your situation Debra, but I'll now always plant evergreen ABOVE a deciduous plant. Annual needledrop won't be too unsightly and, as needles break down in the soil, will help the pH of deciduous plants in our slightly-alkaline 6.8 soil.

    But I know the value of large deciduous trees on the west side of a home in a hot location! It can be as substantial as having the AC off.
    Good luck with the area under your maples.
     

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