The juniper family provides a wide variety of hardy low-care evergreen ground-covers, shrubs and trees for rock-garden landscaping. Originating in Asia and other mountainous areas, junipers are generally referred to as "alpines," tolerating the poor soils, low water and heavy winds associated with rocky slopes.
Be prepared to choose from a wide variety of junipers, whatever part of the U.S. you live in. Junipers flourish in all but the extreme heat and humidity of the Deep South. In most areas, you will have a choice of low-growing and tree-sized varieties. Popular names like "Blue Rug," "Pencil Point" and "Rocket" suggest the range of shapes, colors and textures available in the juniper family.
Thnk color, texture and shape when landscaping with junipers. Foliage colors range from yellow to gray to bluish, dark, or bright greens. Textures can range from feathery to hard-edged. Shapes range from free-form to formal. Junipers come in sizes and kinds for almost every rock garden landscape.
Be prepared for vigorous growth. The most common mistake gardeners can make is leaving too little space for these tenacious growers. Low varieties can spread up to six feet from a single plant, and tree-like varieties may reach heights between six and twelve feet. Be aware of what your junipers will look like in maturity and plan accordingly. Rock-garden planning may require searching out "compact" and "dwarf" varieties. Junipers will make the most of difficult growing conditions but can be damaged by crowding and poor air circulation.
Use a light touch with fertilizers and water. Junipers are tough mountain plants. Good drainage is essential for root development; yellowing and withering are usually signs of drowning roots. Over-fertilizing, like over-watering, hampers rather than supports natural growth.