What kind of tree/shrub are these?

(Question)

Hello TMGs,

I moved into a new house in Hillcrest Village and these plants are in the front and I have no idea what they are or how to take care of them.  I personally don’t like them very much, but maybe I can do something to help make them look better?  Also, I have an apricot tree nearby (separated by concrete, but maybe not by roots) and if these are junipers, I’ve heard that they should not be near an apricot tree…  Any ideas?  Thank you!!

 

(Answer)

Yes, these are junipers.  Their bluish green foliage may indicate a variety such as Blue Danube (Juniperus sabina “Blue Danube”) or Blue Star (J. squamata “Blue Star”) which comes in a small tree form such as this.  I am not certain from the photo if they’ve been pruned this way or are what is called a ‘standard’ – a shrub grafted onto a trunk.  Either way, to improve their appearance, pruning away any dead branches and cutting the larger branch back to the collar on the trunk would help.  Use sharp, clean secateurs.

I am also noting that they are situated between what looks like a narrow walkway and the driveway.  That width must be around 60 cm which is hardly large enough for trees such as these.  In fact, they may have been previously pruned this way to allow passage on the walkway without people being prickled by the juniper.  Normally, I would recommend rehabilitation, but in this case, and in light of your not liking these trees, I would recommend removal.  They will continue to be a hindrance to walkway passage and will likely not grow into prize specimens due to their cramped conditions.

Instead, plant either smaller shrubs such as Rose Daphne (Daphne cneorum), Common Bearberry (Arctosyaphylos uva-ursi) or a Lydian Broom (Genista lydia).  All bloom well and stay smaller than 80 cm in height or width.  All require full sun, but the common bearberry can withstand part shade.  Just a note of warning – the Rose Daphne (Daphne cneorum) is poisonous to humans so may not be an ideal choice if there are children in the house.  Alternatively, sunny perennials would enhance this border and bring colour all season long.

The soil looks like it could use amendments such as compost and/or sheep manure.  This should be dug in prior to planting as it will improve the soil structure, hold moisture and add vital nutrients to the bed.  After planting, water well and add a 1 inch layer of a shredded bark mulch around the new plants, which will help keep moisture within the bed and discourage weed growth.

Apricots (Prunus armeniaca) are a self pollinating tree, so one is only required in order to produce fruit.  Apricots can get a rust fungus, but what you might be thinking of is the cedar-apple rust (Gymnosporangium fungi).  This fungi completes its life cycle between junipers and cedars, and spreads to apples, hawthorns, roses and a few others, but not to apricots.

Apricots may be susceptible to common rust fungi which can often be found on many types of trees and shrubs.  Planting the Apricot tree in a sunny, open location allows good air circulation around the tree which will help control rust spread.  In your case where the tree is already planted, pruning any other plant foliage back from crowding the Apricot will allow for both air circulation and more light penetration.  Rust comes about in cool, damp weather.

For more information about apricot and rust fungus: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/rust-disease-apricot-trees-57957.html