How to prune juniper trees

Updated April 17, 2017

Junipers are categorised as evergreens. They can grow as ground covers, shrubs or trees. Juniper trees love hot, dry climates and will even grow in poor soil. The tree is characterised by bluish-silver foliage and on young trees the leaves are needle-like. Junipers tend to be slow-growing, reaching only 5 feet in height in the first 20 years, and typically growing no taller than 15 feet. Junipers should be pruned when they are young. Overgrown junipers probably should be replaced, because most won't survive a severe pruning.

Prune in early spring before new buds appear. Junipers do not grow on "old wood" or on growth that occurs in late summer or fall.

Cut off any branches where they meet the main stem. Cut out any branches that are growing upward instead of outward. Do not over prune.

Remove any branches that are crossing one another or rubbing together. Cut out any dead or weak wood.

Cut out the dead zone or middle of the tree. These are the branches in the centre of the tree that don't receive sufficient light. Though not dead, they won't produce new buds or growth.


Avoid heavy pruning in late summer. Pruning in late summer encourages new growth that won't survive a heavy frost.

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About the Author

Amy Hannaford teaches childbirth education classes and a healthy pregnancy series in Southern Oregon. Hannaford holds an Associate of Arts degree, a certificate in medical assisting, and has been a childbirth educator and birth doula for 20 years. She has been writing articles for Demand Media since 2008.