Battle Of Wills

I'm currently engaged in a struggle that is testing my perseverance. I'm using all the means at my disposal but so is my combatant. It's come down to a battle of wills and I'm finding my resolve is waning. The thing is I don't know if I can win against it. It's large, severely well armored and ha a root system that would put a five hundred year old redwood tree to shame.

If you have ever attempted to remove a Juniper bush from the ground, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. These plants are the epitome of 'low maintenance'. You plant them in the spring of 1962 then forget about them for about forty years or so. Landscaping? Done.

The only catch is, once they're planted, they stay. They will quickly grow roots and anchor themselves roughly five thousand feet below the Earths crust. As you can imagine this makes them a little hard to remove. If you're lucky you will never have to deal with them. You'll kick the bucket first. Believe me you would rather die then try and uproot a Juniper. If you're unlucky you will purchase property with a number of these bushes and be asked to remove them. This will be said with the same sort of casual attitude as you would mutter, 'Lets order delivery tonight'.

As far as personal tastes go, I have to say I like the way a few Juniper bushes look in the front yard. They have a way of eating up a lot of empty space, they don't require hardly any pruning, and they stay green most of the year. My wife on the other hand, believes that they are the work of the Devil himself and has made it her personal mission to annihilate them from the face of the planet. This might be a bit harsh but needless to say, she isn't fond of them.

So as a compromise I decided to prune back our rather large Juniper bush that was encroaching on the driveway. In my head I pictured a sort of bonsai looking tree in the front yard. You know a nice thick truck with a dozen or so limbs all branched out evenly with a sort of wind blown and 'natural' feel. I have discovered that making something look natural is one of the most difficult feats of man.

It seems the Juniper doesn't want to be changed, and is working hard to stop my efforts. I have been cut, bruised, scraped and generally mistreated by this seemly innocent bush. Additionally I found it to be home to one of my least favorite species. Apparently spiders love Junipers. So instead if taking the time required to meticulously prune it, I started to hack at the bush in hopes of finishing a little sooner. I found that while I was 'shaping' it, branches were cut that should have been left alone. This cannot be undone, no matter how hard you try. Just 'putting them back' it will not help you. Luckily the yard waste container reached it's limit and my efforts had to be delayed till another day.

If all this weren't enough I also discovered that I am quite allergic to the plant. I spent most of Saturday recovering from my couple hour of gardening, by simultaneously, sneezing my head off, blowing my nose and gushing water from my irritated eyes. I'm toying with the idea that I might just be allergic to working at all, but I still have a long way to go till I can prove that. I'm only about a quarter done with the Junipers 'transformation' but so far I don't feel that good about it.

This newly misshapen Juniper bush of mine, that once looked like an overgrown, but lovable shaggy dog, now has the look of a miserable wet cat. No one wants a wet cat bush in front of their house.

So tonight the yard waste bin should be empty and I'll have another crack at it. I'm doping up with Benadryl, breaking out the long sleeves, the heavy gloves and firing up the chain saw. Tomorrow I'll either have a delightful Juniper bonsai in the front yard or an ugly bare stump. At the moment, I don't care which.

The Continuing Saga: Juniper Roots


SJ said...

As long as you win against the Juniper - and the allergy thing - well I know your pain - allergies are the pits! Hope all goes well with the yard work - hey - when you are done (and if you are successful) we have a bush that needs to be removed :)

Jason said...

Just remember.

"Fire is your friend."

kludge said...

SJ -

One way or another I WILL BE SUCCESSFUL!

You might want to see what my front yard looks like before soliciting my help! You might regret it.


kludge said...


An excellent tip.

If I get too frustrated I can just commit arson, collect from the insurance company and buy a house without Juniper bushes!

J Crew said...

We had those at our house. Lickily with our left over equity money we hired some peeps to do it. That was fun.

kludge said...

J Crew-

There are few pleasures as rewarding in life as paying other people to do hard work that would otherwise fall on you!

Got any left over funds you want to contribute to the Kludge Bonsai Fund?

Ando said...

Ah, the juniper. I know your pain, friend.

jenylu said...

Junipers are definitely of Satan! We've got some good removal stories of our own. I'll make sure Beamer Pal reads this one! :)

Windy City Survivors said...

I feel your pain Peter. I'm with Patricia, I HATE the look and feel of the bushes. And as you say, they are a spider haven. I cut ours down last year (we had 4 in front of our house). We just took the roots out this year. Letting them die off really helped make it easier to remove the roots--but what a terrible bush!

kludge said...


I'd rather shovel dirt than deal with Junipers...

...actually I'd rather play video games, but that isn't always an option.

kludge said...

Jenylu -

Agreed. It's possible their roots are anchored in the seventh circle of hell.

I've tried to remove them before. I decided then and there I'd rather just trim them.

kludge said...


Well done! You have more tenacity than I do. I'd rather just trim than remove.

It is odd what passes as attractive though. Someone somewhere LOVES the way they look. That's not me, I just don't have the vendetta against them that Patricia does.

Bruna Brito said...

Maaan! this is the funnier text I have ever read!!! Ahem.. I mean, sorry about the Juniper problem. But great blog you have here! I'll visit again to read more! good luck with the bush thing! b.

steph said...

My husband and I are also going through the Juniper scourge!! We removed one last week with the help of a hunking huge chain and 3 ton truck!! I couldn't believe the size of the root! The bush covered several square feet and I was positive there was more than 1 plant. When does the pretty ground covering bush become a monster?

We have one more to deal with in the front yard. It was planted in front of a brick column, and from the walk it looks like it covers almost half of the front of the house on that side. My husband is afraid he'll kill it if he trims it. I'd be more than happy to look after the cremation arrangements!

Any ideas what we can plant in place of these - also low maintenance, but without the tenacity of Satan.

Anonymous said...

I came here looking for advice on day 5 of my own juniper (or as we call it "icky spider bush") abatement problem. I'm somewhat relieved to find that I'm not incompetent that these are actually incredibly difficult to remove. I'm screwed, it is part of a 3 tiered patio and the "truck" and yank option isn't available to me! I have 9 of these suckers in my yard and they are each the size of a mini-van.

Anyone got a mule team they can lend me?


Anonymous said...

Hilarious! Love the post.

Anonymous said...

What a funny blog. We bought a new home with a sloped (cliff) split back yard with the slope covered in junipers. We laughed and laughed reading your experience. And yes we are going to try to trim the bushes and ulitmately may remove them. God be with us.

Alison said...

Thanks for the post! We trimmed our junipers this week. It looks like our front yard has a bad hair cut. A really bad hair cut. I'd love for them to be removed--but that means removing them, and I don't love that.