Question about collecting a very large landscape Juniper?

I have quite a bit of experience collecting trees from the wild and from landscapes but not alot of experience collecting Junipers. I have not collected many Junipers and definietly not something this big, it is around a 28’’ base. It’s growing just inches from a foundation of an old farm homestead in Northern Michigan. The Juniper is quite old and has been “hacked back” by the owner to keep it in check so I will not need to cut it back much or at all when collecting.

I plan to obviously get as much root as possible. I was also planning on setting up a misting system for it, protect it from wind, and put it under a light shade cloth. Any additional tips from those with experience collecting large landscape junipers? I really want to give it the best possible chance.

Sounds like a real monster. Don’t have collection experience with something like that but it sounds like you’re on the right track. Don’t know what you plan to use for soil, but I would say that 100% pumice is probably the way to go.

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28" base! Better bring in backhoe or put your chiropractor on stand by. I dug up a large juniper at my place years ago and it is still alive. The same principles apply. Dig a trench around the tree at the edge of the drip line. Then slowly work your way underneath the tree to severe the taproots with the idea of securing as much of the rootball as possible. Wrap in burlap or in your case a king size bed sheet so that the soil doesn’t fall apart. Get a couple of friends seduced with promises of beer and pizza AFTER THE JOB to lift the behemoth out of the pit or failing that a metal tripod and a hoist. Put tree on cart, flatbed trailer but not a child’s wagon to haul out.

For aftercare, I think you have a well thought out plan - misting, shade cloth, out of wind, etc. Are you going to put the rootball into the soil or a training box? In the ground might be better if you have the space and it doesn’t impede your ability to provide the controls like misting, shade etc. for water/oxygen balance. Early morning sun is more gentle than the hot afternoon variety. A landscaping friend of mine likes using Wilt Pruf. I can’t speak personally because I don’t use but I may after my friend’s say so. Remember that the strength of the juniper is in its foliage. So error on the side of leaving lots of foliage. I hope this helps you withyour Moby Dick.


@DavidJ “a king size bedsheet” :joy::joy::joy:

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Good points, I was hoping I could get by without a tractor on this one but I think that it might be best. Actually its a farm and the owner is a nice guys so I bet he wouldnt mind lending it. Im going to owe him a bottle of wine or something. I do plan to bring 2 friends when collecting.

King size bed sheet is a great idea haha!

I was going to make a box for this one because I have had bad luck with putting collections in the ground in the past.

In an ideal world I would like to prep the tree by trenching around the root ball and backfilling with good soil, then setting up an irrigation system on a hose spigot timer for it and collect the tree a year later. But… that seems to intrusive to the homeowner.

Sifted pumice, a nice tight box for the root system, make sure it doesn’t wiggle in the box, balance of water and oxygen, keep all the foliage you can, foliar feed. Personally I usually go straight with full sun right after collection, however if we have a heat wave, i’ll move into partial shade. Good luck!


Matt, if you are going to box it which I do occasionally as the situation requires, remember what Ryan showed about boxing yamadori and avoiding zones without roots which become permanent wet areas that can kill adjacent roots. There is a stream on this and Ryan used pieces of wood to block off these areas from forming.

What time of year were you planning to remove the tree?


Thanks again guys, @Jeremiah_Lee if you can get those huge beautiful Sierras to collect ok a cushy landscape juniper should work… I hope.

@DavidJ I remember the stream on box creation and I agree that will be important I will keep that technique in mind and re watch that stream.

I actually don’t think I will need to prune any foliage off when collecting the tree because the homeowner has kept it back so much. I was planning on collecting the tree this Mid September.

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Mike and Matt,
I was only partially kidding about the bed sheet. Doesn’t have to be a large as a “king” , a smaller one would do. I use one for larger trees that a 3’ wide piece of burlap will not do.

Hi Matt,
Any updates on your big juniper? I collected one last week in Ottawa, roughly 5-6’ tall. It’s now in the greenhouse on a heatbed under a mist system. Box and anchoring system done according to Ryan’s explanations. Didn’t cut a single branch because of what we know about junipers. Crossing my fingers (and toes) that it makes it. This is my third attempt at collecting junipers in urban areas… first two died within 3-4 months after collection!

Cool tree @SteveU I have collected mine and aftercare is going good so far. I have not moved it onto a heat pad but will for a bit soon. The tree as usual is bigger than I realized. I will get a few pics up soon.

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Sounds like you have got the horticulture sorted for the tree. My advice, as already stated is to plan the lift. Try to calculate how much it will weigh with root ball, how you plan to lift, move and pot. If it will fit through doorways etc. When you do the lift, make sure everyone knows what they are doing, and who is supervising the lift.

Matt, I collected this Juniper from my yard this spring(April). A few things I believe led to great growth and vigor this year. It was planted in 100% pumice, top dressed with dyed sphagnum moss to help the sun warm the soil during the cool spring and kept on a heating pad until summer kicked in. I think the heating pad was really key. Good luck!

Have you been able to collect it with a lot of feeder roots? Did you have to cut many anchor roots? Cool tree and congrats for the recovery!

Had to cut a major tap root as you can see in the pic. But did have some decent finer roots above it. The other thing I forgot to mention for good success is tying the tree in extremely well, particularly with a big tree. There is no way to move a big tree once potted without it moving around unless it is tied in securely.
This is really critical for all trees I believe.
With recovery going so well looking forward to styling possibly next year(and a little nervous):wink:

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Nice, thanks for sharing all the details!