How to Prune Hollywood Juniper

Updated February 21, 2017

Hollywood junipers have thick, twisting limbs and deep-green, scaly foliage that add architectural interest to the home garden. Hollywood junipers may grow 15 to 20 feet tall by 10 feet wide, with a slow growth rate in both tree and shrub form. The plant has been in North America since the 1700s, but is native to China, Mongolia and Japan. The tree is planted for its unique branching and shape, and is normally not pruned in order to preserve the natural shape. Hollywood junipers do not grow or sprout from old wood, so care should be taken to keep from cutting into the heaviest stems, or the tree will have permanent bare spots.

Prune in early spring just as the tree is coming out of its dormant period and buds are beginning to break. Select peripheral branches to remove back to the previous Y, or crotch. Choose dead, broken, or diseased branches for removal first.

Follow the natural lines of the plant, and cut any stems that are too long back to parent wood. Cut 1/4 inch outside the branch collar to prevent damaging the parent wood.

Keep enough green on the exterior of the plant to hide the dead zone. Do not shear the plant, because this encourages excess edge growth. Cut the edge growth back to where it originates, usually just a couple of inches.

Reduce the length of branches on the bottom first, then gradually work your way up. This will create a layered, balanced effect.

Use a chain saw on extremely overgrown Hollywood junipers. The wood gets thick and hard as the plant grows older, and you can't cut through it with anything else. Cut the branches back to healthy lateral growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruner
  • Handsaw
  • Chain saw
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About the Author

Bonnie Grant began writing professionally in 1990. She has been published on various websites, specializing in garden-related instructional articles. Grant recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management with a hospitality focus from South Seattle Community College.