pruning gold coast juniper

Gold Coast Juniper Before Pruning

This Gold Coast Juniper is planted a bit close to the walkway, but for a reason.  The walkway traverses along the precipice of a steep slope.  There isn’t much room near the path to plant and we wanted a dense planting to discourage people from going near the slope’s drop-off.

Gold Coast Juniper is a compact, spreading plant, and unlike many of the other junipers it has softer foliage.   With a mature height of around 18 to 24″, it should serve well as buffer/barrier to the slope.

Some Planting Design Needs Gentle Persuasion

You know I always talk about selecting plants to suit the situation.  Always consider their characteristics (i.e. size potential, growth habit, exposure, etc.) and the design intent.  Sometimes the “fit” is not perfect and you must gently persuade the plant to work in that space.

The use of Gold Coast Juniper along this walkway is an example of this.  The juniper lends itself to fairly aggressive pruning and therefore, can be persuaded each season to stay within the space.

pruning gold coast juniper

Selective Pruning

I don’t recommend you create too many circumstances like this because it puts an extra burden on the maintenance aspect.

If the plant care is under your supervision it’s usually not a problem.  If there’s another company involved there is the possibility that the pruning will be done incorrectly or neglected entirely.

So What’s The Best Way To Prune Gold Coast Juniper?

There is only one right answer to this question…prune selectively.

In the first picture at the top I’ve indicated points where selective cuts should be made.  The second picture shows a bypass hand pruner making one of those cuts.

Here are some of the things we wish to accomplish by selectively pruning these Gold Coast Juniper:

  • Contain the plant within the allowable space.
  • Encourage the plant to grow full and compact.
  • Extend the life and usefulness of this plant in this “less than ideal” circumstance.

This type of pruning program should be started soon after planting.  This early start gives it the structure it will need to work in this space for many years to come.

gold coast juniper

Gold Coast Juniper After Pruning

There are some interesting uses of plants out there because of pruning tactics.  If you have one let’s hear about it.  Use the comments box below.

  • memo
    1:22 AM, 14 February 2011

    Very informative. Most sites don’t bother explaining these types of plants (unlike rose bushes). Judging from how I’ve seen them ‘sheared’ to reveal an unsightly brown mess on the sidewalk side, most maintenance crews don’t know or care.

    • Roger
      9:06 AM, 14 February 2011

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s so true there’s a lack of knowledge out there. I do think some of these companies have good intentions, but they simply don’t know the individual plants and the appropriate care for them. My clients call constantly asking for recommendations – the fact is there is a shortage of skilled and knowledgeable people in the trade.

      If you’ll notice I haven’t posted a new article in a while. I’m working on a report that covers the main topics (currently 6 or 7) of landscape development & care. When it’s finished I’ll have it available on the site for download (PDF file). The topics cover the fundamental knowledge a person should have to do good, basic landscape procedures. It’s being written so that people that follow these guide lines will help the gardens they work on and not hinder them.

      Thanks again for your comment.

  • Billy
    10:36 AM, 14 December 2016

    Dear Roger,
    I have a raw of 4 large gold lace junipers – 8 years old- in front of my house that were never pruned. Longest branches are ~5′ and extend wildly to every side.

    A couple days ago, quite dumbly, I cut about 3 feet off of a large top branch and left a conspicuous, unsightly hole exposed at the plant’s center. There is plenty of green foliage below the cut, so do you think the hole will be covered by new growth by spring? To make things worse, it snowed and freezed a couple days after the insult.

    Once I stop banging my head against the wall, may I trim the rest of the junipers in such a dramatic fashion to ‘level off’ my mistake? If so, is better doing it in early spring? (it’ll be freezing here in North KY for the rest of December). I guess they won’t look too pretty… Or should I remove the plant altogether?

    Thanks for your fantastic blog, I wish I’d found it earlier.

    • Roger
      10:59 PM, 15 December 2016

      Most plants, when not pruned, will put most of their growth effort into the dominant bud at the end of branches. This is what has happened to your junipers. And for very fast growers, like your junipers, you get these long branches.

      In the early spring I would tip-prune the ends of branches and stems (using a hand pruner). This will encourage the plant to push new growth from the side buds, which should help fill in gaps and holes.

      It’s hard to give precise advice when I’m not there seeing the plant and the situation. Of course removing the plant is always an option. Junipers are relatively inexpensive as shrubs go.

  • Rita Hill
    11:19 AM, 30 July 2017

    taken a climbing hydrangea from a wall. how do I get rid of thick branch marks.

    will vinegar do the job. grateful for a answer.


    • Roger
      3:44 PM, 5 August 2017

      I guess vinegar is worth a try. It seems to solve so many other problems! 🙂

      My experience with removing remnants of the aerial roots is to physically rub them off. Sometimes I’ve even used a wire brush on stone and masonry. I’ve also used sandpaper on other surfaces. Perhaps the vinegar will loosen the vegetative matter and let you use a less abrasive means to remove it — maybe a brush of some kind.

  • steve
    12:03 AM, 17 April 2018

    Hello Roger:

    Thank for the info, but I think I still need more. I have 4 or 5 gold star junipers planted by landscapers in July 2012. i have never pruned or done anything to them, except in the 1st year ’till they were established. In March 2018, York Pa received about 12 to 15″ of snow. I have noticed the branches spread out even more, probably due to the weight of the snow. But they re getting huge5′ high, a good 10′ across. they need pruned I believe, but i considering buying about 100′ for black nylon smooth rope and encircling them to try to pull the branches back together more. not sure if that would even work. Then maybe prune from there. Any suggestions, please?

    These Junipers are also growing into my Gold Mop Threadleaf False Cypress. They’ve grown more than I planned on. I had allotted plenty of space based on what their full grown size should be, but both of these seem to be a good bit beyond what I’ve read is supposed to be their maximum size. Not sure how to prune these either.

    I don’t want to damage or destroy them, but I’m unsure of what or how to contain or control them a bit. i can supply photos if you need them. I don’t see any place to attach them here.

    thank you


    • Roger
      12:40 PM, 17 April 2018

      You’ll need to cut back the juniper severely. Use and hand-pruner and/or loppers to make these individual cuts. I would not use power trimmers (gas or electric).

      Follow each long branch back to where there’s still healthy growth, and make your cuts above that healthy growth. If you go too far into the heavy, bare wood of the plant it will not recover. It’s definitely going to look “rough” when you’re done. But as new growth emerges it will disguise the heavy cuts and begin to look fine.

      For the threadleaf cypress you’ll also make individual cuts, but take care not to go to deep on this plant. The juniper is more tolerant than this one. If the juniper is growing into the cypress, make the stronger cuts on the juniper.

      And lastly, I would not do any typing-up of the branches. This can create other problems in the long-term.

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