How to Prune Shore Juniper


Junipers either produce scale-like or needle-like foliage. Shore juniper ("Juniperus conferta") is one of the needle producing species. It is a very low-growing shrub with branches that look like arms or tentacles reaching out. It is a nice looking evergreen ground cover for hot dry sites. Since this plant is native to the Japanese shoreline it also tolerates salty or sandy conditions very well.

Step 1

Study the growth habit. This is the best way to decide what to prune away. Because this plant is either used as a ground cover or to to trail down walls, the new growth is often desired. The average plant will spread 6 to 8 feet over time in perfect conditions. If it is meant as a specimen plant for a a rock garden, you will want to restrict its growth.

Step 2

Remove dead or diseased wood. Bad wood can be pruned anytime from spring through fall. Too much die back could mean this plant is receiving too much water. Use sharp pruners to cut unwanted branches back to the main lateral branch. Use garden shears for small twigs or brown foliage.

Step 3

Perform selective grooming. It is less noticeable to groom rather than hard prune a small conifer. The best way to restrict growth in a less conspicuous way is to shear away part of the new growth each spring. It is important to note that conifers do not always grow back the same way after branches have been removed. A minimal technique such as selective pruning will help maintain rather than change a plant's natural form.

Step 4

Encourage the growth. After shaping, arrange the branches in the direction you want them to grow. You can use landscape fasteners to pin down the branches and keep them poised in the right direction. Commercial fasteners are thick wire bent into a "U" shape. Make your own with coat hangers or thick wire. Once the branches are trained, the wire can be removed. This method is used to direct foliage down a wall or shape an individual plant. Training is not necessary in mass plantings.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruners
  • Garden shears
  • Landscape pins


  • Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Books, 2007
Keywords: ground cover, Japanese, Shoreline, salty, draught tolerant

About this Author

Marci Degman has been a landscape designer and horticulture writer since 1997. She has an Associate of Applied Science in landscape technology and landscape design from Portland Community College. Degman writes a newspaper column for the "Hillsboro Argus" and radio tips for KUIK. Her teaching experience for Portland Community College has set the pace for her to write online instructional articles.