Juniper is a coniferous evergreen shrub (or tree) commonly grown in the landscape. One of the great things about growing junipers, other than their ease of care, is their versatility. There are numerous types of juniper plants, from low-growing ground covers to large shrubs or trees. This makes it easy to find one that suits your particular needs. Whether you’re looking for year-round interest, screening, or simply something to fill in empty areas, there is certain to be a juniper of some kind to get the job done.
The large shrub or tree forms work best for windbreaks or screening, especially when planted close together. They also work well for foundation plantings, rock garden additions, hedges, and specimen or focal point plantings. The low-growing varieties are great for erosion control and filling in bare spots, especially when planted on hillsides. They can also drape over walls or containers. Yes, they actually grow rather well in containers, which can be placed on the deck, porch, or patio. Heck, with containers, they can pretty much go wherever you want them.
I have creeping juniper (J. horizontalis), which is also one of the most popular low-growing types found in the landscape. Not only does its bluish-green, feathery-like foliage provide year-round interest, it also fills in empty areas of our hillside bed, without taking over other nearby plants. In fact, it provides an excellent cover for my daffodil plants once their foliage begins to die back. Best of all, my juniper requires little, if any, care or maintenance.
Juniper grows well in nearly any soil type and tolerates many conditions. As long as you put it in an area that is well draining, you rarely, if ever, come across any problems. It’s also suitable for dry areas (like our hillside). In fact, many types of juniper are ideal for use in drought-like conditions. Those growing other types of juniper, both male and female, can also benefit from their attractive blue to purple-colored fall berries. The birds find these favorable as well once their winter food becomes scarce.
Winter is another nice thing when it comes to growing juniper in the landscape. No matter how yucky it may look or feel outside, your juniper plant will remain attractive. It will offer interesting texture and foliage color when most other things look rather drab and unappealing. So next time you are looking for something to add to your landscape, consider the versatility that junipers provide. There’s something for everyone’s needs, preferences, and budgets.
Resources: personal experience